It goes without fail when a natural disaster hits, someone somewhere proclaims it as God’s judgment.
Last night, I read an article being passed around on Facebook declaring that Hurricane Isaac is God’s judgment on New Orleans for its sin, in particular homosexuality. The author stated that Katrina was a call to repentance and, having not repented, Isaac is God’s judgment. (see full article)
Who knows the mind of God, but God?
Christians need to be wary in proclaiming and pronouncing God’s judgment.
God is the God of mercy and, yes, justice. But is every natural disaster, every tragedy the voice of God’s displeasure and wrath? I don’t think so.
When I hear people single-out a certain area or group of people who are suffering as a sign of their lack of repentance I can’t help but think of Jesus.
The man who knew no sin and yet suffered the worst.
I hear him answer the question, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3)
There is death and there is sin and there is pestilence, but God is not eager to send judgment.
I think of His great affection for his people,
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.
Sin entered the world through our first father Adam and since then, because of his sin and our own, mankind has suffered.
It’s the clinging to cause-and-effect that gets me. The idea that if I obey God, then he will bless me, but if I don’t obey then bad things will happen to me.
And I wonder just how far this type of thinking takes people?
If someone is injured in a car accident, is it because they had some hidden sin?
Did my mother-in-law get cancer and die because she was unrepentant and displeased God?
Are babies born with abnormalities because of some sin of their own or their parents?
If someone is raped is it a pronouncement of guilt?
Sin is in need of repentance. We all should lay low below the cross.
When I hear with pointed fingers, “Look at God’s judgment on them!” I see the Pharisee praying,
‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
The pointed fingers, the ‘I’m so glad I’m not a sinner like them’ attitude reeks of pride. It divides. It preaches a gospel of death—legalism that proclaims justification by works.
It lacks compassion.
What did Jesus do when he saw the people? He looked at them and felt compassion for them, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:36).
What did Jesus do when the rich man asked what he needed to do for eternal life? He looked at him and loved him (Mk. 10:17-22).
When we see the wearing of this fallen world, our hearts should be like the tax collector beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
We should be humbled. We should pray. Pray for a humble, loving, righteousness.
We should seek to show the same compassion, grace, and love by which we were washed.
Because aren’t we all sheep that have gone astray?