Why doesn't God stop evil and does it really matter if we go to church?

Why doesn't God stop evil and does it really matter if we go to church? I'm a parent and I don't want them to listen to me because I overpower them, but because they love me. God is a God of love and because Lucifer accused God of being unfair, the Lord has allow sin and freedom to show He is love and the devil's ways lead to death. Pastor Doug answered a couple other questions about doubt and church attendance.
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Caller:  I’ve been really confused lately about God.  I’m in my teenage years and I just have a hard time with the Bible and all this, but why doesn’t God just take over the devil, or does He not have that power? 

Pastor Doug:  Alright, I’ll tell you why.  I’m a parent.  I’m bigger, well, a couple of my kids are getting bigger than me now, but I’m bigger than most of them.  I don’t want my children to listen to me because I overpower them with some brute force.  I want them to listen to me because they love me.  If God used His brute power to destroy the devil and to force everyone in this world to listen to Him again, that’s the wrong motive. 

You see, God is a God of love, Mike, and when the devil began to insinuate doubts about God’s love and government, the Lord had to allow Lucifer to play out his hand because He wanted to demonstrate to the world what the result of Satan’s government would be.  So the Lord grieves more than anybody about the sin and suffering in this world, and yes, God does have the divine power to obliterate the devil and kill everybody evil, but then He’s using fear to motivate people rather than love.  Jesus does not force us to love Him.  You can’t work that way.  So God had to stand back and allow both angels and mortals to choose whether or not they’re going to serve the Lord or not.  Love, real love, requires the freedom to choose.

Co-Host:  And, in fact, the ultimate choice is at the cross with Jesus dying.

Pastor Doug:  That’s right.

Caller:  But you know what—I believe that I am happy and almost like to quote that God is love because everybody says it but nobody really believes it.  People just walk around saying, oh yeah, God is love and you go to church and God is love, but people—you hear them mumbling how, oh no, someone had a heart attack and you know, pray for this person from the congregation that had a heart attack or a stroke or whatever, but does it really help to go to church?  You know, is it possible to just avoid the appearance of evil and live a normal life?

Pastor Doug:  Well, you’re asking a couple questions.  One—is it important to go to church?  Church is the environment, if you have a good Bible teaching/preaching church, it’s an environment where you’re going to be exposed to the character of God and you become like what you look at.  People that spend all their time looking at bad things become bad, and people who spend their time looking at Jesus become like Christ. 

And so church should be, and you and I both know, Mike, not all churches are what they should be, which church should be an environment where people are exposed to Christ, the image of Him, and they’re transformed into his image.  So maybe you’ve had an unpleasant church experience or you’ve not yet found a church where they’re preaching and teaching and practicing the Bible, but that’s God’s plan and church is very important. 

Caller:  Well, then why doesn’t He answer my prayers? And when will He come?

Pastor Doug:  Well, I can’t delve into the specifics of what your prayers are and which ones haven’t been answered, but let me promise you something, Mike the very fact that you’re alive right now is evidence that God has protected you.  And He will answer your prayers.  I can just tell you story after story.  Have you asked God to show you that He’s real? 

Caller:  No.

Pastor Doug:  Okay.  First of all, have you made a decision giving Him control of your life? 

Caller:  I have, but I keep doubting it.  I keep doubting it because I don’t have much faith.  And He doesn’t grow my faith in me.

Pastor Doug:  Well, there’s some things you can do to increase your faith.  The Bible says ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God’ in the book of Romans, so if you study, if you’re reading the Bible, if you’re going to church, your faith will grow. 

I’d like to recommend something we’ll do for free, Mike.  If you’ll pick up the phone after we say goodbye, call our resource number—it’s another free phone call—tell them you’d like to get the Amazing Facts Bible Study Course. 

Don’t let the word ‘study’ scare you.  There’s no testing or grading, so to speak, it’s a free set of lessons that explain the Bible, they’ve got pictures in them—they’re really great.  Call that phone number.  It will take you through an introduction to Jesus and the truth of the Bible that will change your life.  And they’re especially designed to be attractive for young people.  Would you like that?

Caller:  Yeah.

Pastor Doug:  All you have to do is pick up the phone when we say goodbye and call them and tell them you’re listening to Bible Answers Live and you’d like to ask for the Amazing Facts Study Course. 

Caller:  Okay.

Pastor Doug:  Okay, Mike, let me pray with you before we go.

Caller:  Okay.

Pastor Doug:  Father in heaven, it’s evident to me from Mike’s questions that he is indeed searching.  The very fact that he called this program is an indicator that he’s searching for truth.  Lord, You promised that if we’ll seek, we’ll find, and so we pray that You’ll answer his prayer.  Show him how real You are and increase his faith.  Help him to see that You have a good and a great plan for his life.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen

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