Feeble Knees

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Don't Anyone Dare

Messy Christian has already encountered someone running around spouting off about God's judgment as being the cause of the earthquake and tsunamis. Before anyone else starts doing their best Jerry Falwell impersonation, let's just nip this thing in the bud, shall we?

It is not easy to stop and think rationally at a time like this. But before things get too out of hand, let's try to address the inevitable inane and stupid things that some people are going to end up saying, if they're not saying them already.

Is the Southeast Asian Disaster God's Judgment, or Just Symptoms of a Flawed Earth?

After thirty-three years of living and learning, I know just about enough to be able to say this definitively: I don't know.

When we look at the instances of Judgment recorded in the Bible, we see that more often than not, judgment begins in the house of the Lord. That is to say, it is the people who claim to be called by God's name, those who identify themselves as His people who are judged the harshest. I believe this is always the case. A parent cannot discipline someone else's child. But his own, whom he loves, he chastens. God has said this over and over again in His word, that he will correct those of us who claim to follow him. Judgment begins at the house of the Lord - which means we are the ones who are the most accountable for what we say and do. You do not hold a two year old child to the same standard of accountability as you do a thirty year old. Likewise, I do not believe God holds those who don't know him to the same level of accountability as he does those who claim to minister in His name.

Also, as Matt over at Wheat and Chaff points out, Jesus remonstrated those who assumed the victims of a tragic accident are being singled out for harsher penalties. Jesus says this is not so:

And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Luke 15:2-5, NKJV

I added the emphasis here. Jesus himself is saying that people who died in tragic accidents were not singled out for horrific death because they were worse than any of us. "I tell you, no." He said. That's Jesus' own words there. Take that to heart and consider it.

Romans 3:23 suggests that we are all on a level playing field where it comes to sinfulness; No one person can claim to be more or less sinful. The fact remains that all have sinned. No one is blameless, ergo, no one, neither I nor Jerry Falwell have anything in ourselves in which we can boast. Another reminder is in order here:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

We do live in a fallen world, one that is imperfect and fraught with danger and peril. The Bible never attempts to mislead us into thinking we'll always be safe from calamity. Job himself testifies:

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
Job 3:25

If God is Omnipotent, Why Did He Allow This?

I don't know.

Does God Hate Unbelievers?

Absolutely, positively, unquestionably, no, He does not.

John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that we would not perish.

Hebrews 12:2 says that for the joy that was set before him (Jesus) endured the cross, despising the shame.

These are not the actions of an unloving God. These are also not the actions of a capricious deity bent on toying with us. The death of Christ should prove to us the utter seriousness with which God is determined to redeem us from our own bondage and reconcile us to Himself.

Remember how it is we all ended up outside the bounds of paradise in the first place? Since that moment we willfully put all mankind outside the protection and provenance of God. Since that moment God has been actively at work to seek and save that which was lost, because He better than anyone knows the perils we face on our own.

Why are Christians so Smug and Quick to Proclaim Judgment?
Spiritual pride, pure and simple. Those that go about wagging the finger and heaping ashes on the poor devastated survivors should be ashamed of themselves. Why are you not weeping? Why are you not devastated? Abraham pleaded with God for the lives of those in Sodom and Gommorrah. Jeremiah was completely inconsolable over the fate of Jerusalem.

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
Jeremiah 9:1

Jesus himself wept and cried out over what was to become of Jerusalem. It is hardly Christlike to stand there shaking one's head with arms folded saying "I told you so." Dear reader, if you are among those who think these people "had it coming", with all due respect, go soak your head.

Do not imagine for a minute that God will hold you blameless for such an attitude. Shut your yap and make yourself useful, do something to help alleviate the suffering of these people. Show them the love of God. Maybe if you do, someday they'll actually want to hear what you have to say, maybe not. But the fact is, it is situations like these that show the world what we're really made of. Do I need to remind everyone of this?

(Jesus said) for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:35-40, KJV

A Prayer
Dear Lord, Where can we turn but to you? Who has the power, strength, and spirit that is so desperately needed? It is not in governments or organizations that we trust, but we look to You who knows the names and hearts of every life that was lost, of every survivor and grief-struck person.

Provide what is most needed for each - food, shelter, medicine, compassion. Send people who are willing to comfort and help, equip and strengthen them with your steadfast love. Help them to work tirelessly to distribute aid and hope.

Soften our hearts Lord, and teach us to be humble representatives of your grace and mercy. Help us to pray. Teach us to love, comfort, strengthen, help, protect, provide, and bless.

Jesus, we don't understand, we can't begin to fathom all that has happened. We are awed and humbled. Be with those for whom this tragedy is a stumbling block to faith in your love for all people. I don't know what to say to such a one Lord, but you do. Help me to be loving and kind to those who are doubting and angry.

Your word says that the fervent prayer of the righteous man avails much. Lord I don't feel effective, and absent your grace I am not righteous. Jesus, please receive the yearnings, cries and pleas of my heart, and all the unspoken things for which there are no words to convey.


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