Every time I go away, someone seems to push the crazy button. It has happened so many, many times that my wife makes a joke about it if something crazy happens while I’m home.
A few weeks ago, I was in Phoenix when the Black Forest fire broke out and my wife was evacuated. Over 500 homes were turned to ash and thousands of acres of forest turned to charcoal.
This week I was in Tennessee on a writing trip and, well, you be the judge. Here are three:
1. A 6-year boy in Colorado wants to be a girl. He got upset that he couldn’t use the girl’s bathroom at school. His parents sued the school and the State of Colorado has now ruled in his favor. He’s free to use the ladies room. I suppose that would include the locker room and showers, if first-graders have those. Did I mention he was six years old?
2. The Supreme Court, in the United States v. Winsor case, ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act saying that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman was discrimination and a violation of equal protection. Most believe, and I agree, that this will sweep the states with homosexual marriages and, by logic, polygamy and other polyamorous marriages, for it will now be virtually impossible to rule against their arguments. I suppose, by logic as well, if a 6-year old boy can declare himself to be female and the State honors that, then he could just as easily declare himself desirous and willing to enter into a sexual relationship with an older man. And under our discrimination and equal protection laws, the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which has been laboring for years to abolish age of consent laws that criminalize adult sexual involvement with “consenting” minors, should be able to soon win their case and be legally legitimate…and accepted as legitimate. So the florist who was sued and held liable in a discrimination case because she refused to contract a homosexual couple’s wedding, could be sued again if she refuses to do a wedding between a 6-year old boy and a 48-year old man.
I know what you’re thinking…this could never happen.
Ha! Just wait until I go away again.
3. At a Texas rally for laws to prevent another Gosnell abortion holocaust by beefing abortion clinic standards, pro-life supporters were singing “Amazing Grace” while being shouted down by pro-abortion advocates with “Hail, Satan!” and “Mary should have had an abortion!”
I have heard a number of people say that God is raining His judgment down upon us.
While the fires were raging here in the Black Forest and shortly thereafter, I heard from several, including a very close friend, who implied that this was to be viewed, not as a tragedy, but as the hand of God in judgment. It was the unleashing of His wrath.
Now, to be clear, I am one of those who, without a shadow of doubt, believe in the “ungazable” holiness of God. And in consideration of the unrelenting in-your-face rebellion and ugly, ugly depravity of man, it seems to me that God would be more than justified had He wiped out the entire human race years ago, let alone what is happening today.
And…were it not for Christ…that would be the least of our just deserts.
But are we to think that the natural tragedies and the rise of evil in our culture is the result of God’s “punishment”? Are we to think that since our home was spared that God then considers us to be more “righteous” than those who lost theirs?
What an utterly despicable thought.
We live in a fallen world. Death takes the most righteous man sometimes early and leaves the evil man way too long. I agree that all of this is under the total sovereignty of God, but Jesus said something very important about “disasters” in Luke 13:1-5. Here it is:
“There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; 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 offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.’”
It seems to me that Jesus is refuting the notion that these things, both man-made (Pilate) and natural (tower of Siloam), came as the result of God’s wrath upon the “more sinful”. Outside the righteousness of Christ, we are all guilty. Whether one dies in a fire today or in their sleep 50 years from now is, in the perspective of eternity, ultimately the same…we die and face either eternal blessing or eternal separation.
Also while I was gone, a wildfire broke out in Arizona and 19 “HotShot” firefighters perished. A horrible tragedy. The wind shifted suddenly, and they were all lost, some sought safety in their field shelters, but it wasn’t enough. Would one say that these men were greater sinners than those who had escaped the fire and were now safe? I think Jesus clearly tells us that isn’t the case.
Yes, it is true that we have examples in the Scriptures of times when God did bring judgment. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their sin; a whole lot of Israelites were swallowed by the earth because of their rebellion; in Noah’s day, virtually all mankind was destroyed. But we are given clear, biblical understanding that these specific events were the result of God’s direct intervening judgment. We don’t have that clarity today.
There are presently over 7 billion people on this planet, which means that there are likely millions of “tragedies” that occur each day: murder, rape, disease, starvation, wasted lives, accidents, fire, loss of sight or a limb, ravages of war, slavery, abuse, neglect, abortion, infanticide, theft and robbery, etc. and etc. and etc.
The fallen world is a bummer.
Are we to suppose that each of these is the result of God’s intervening judgment?
I have always cringed when Christians are quick to call tragedy, or the rise of evil, the judgment of God. When Job lost his family and possessions, his friends and even his wife told him to repent because he was obviously suffering from the wrath of God. They were wrong. Stephen was stoned to death. Virtually all of the disciples were martyred. Thousands of Christians were put to death under Roman rule and thousands are martyred in the present.
Is this the intervening judgment of God?
It is the natural flow of a dying world.
It is the groaning of the creation, as Paul put it in Romans 1.
It is the consequences of death that inhere to all of us as sons of Adam.
And some of it is the consequence of failing to swim against the current. The slothful man looks around and finds his fence in ruins and the crops dying. Why? Because God has “judged” him? No. Because the river flows toward ruin and death and when we don’t resist it, we will always awake to ruins. However, we are called to resist. We have been equipped, empowered and commissioned to work against that flow…to mend fences, to plant and fertilize and water and weed.
I sometimes wonder if all the “judgment of God” talk is really just a cop-out. It’s a whole lot easier to blame God than it is to consider that there may be a lot more personal responsibility wrapped up in what we see happening around us than we are willing to admit.
Don’t get me wrong. God can remove His restraining hand. In His letter to the church of Ephesus, Jesus rebukes them for leaving their “first love” and warns, that unless they repent and return, He will remove their lamp stand from its place. We are the light of the world, Jesus said. If we hide our light, not only does the room get dark, but eventually the whole nation. If darkness appears to be creeping across the land, maybe we should look at ourselves first.
May your 4th of July be spent in thankful celebration, but somewhere in there is a critical need to be in deep prayer…for ourselves. May we stop complaining and blaming; may we swim more upstream and float with the current less.
One way is life; the other is death.