Friday, January 15, 2010
1/15/10- Calamity and God Luke 13:1-5
(Left- picture of Hati houses in ruins after the quake)
1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
Calvin abridged: This passage is highly practical, in that we have a natural disease of being too rigorous and severe in judging others and too quick to flatter down our own faults. The result is that we censure with excessive severity the offenses of our fellow Christians, and whenever they have a calamity we condemn them as wicked and evil people. On the other hand, every person that is not facing a calamity by the hand of God slumbers in the midst of their sins, as if they had God’s favor and peace. This is a double fault, for when we see God chastising anyone- he is warning us of his judgments that each of us may examine ourselves and consider what we deserve. If he spares us for a time, we do not need to take that kindness and forbearance as an opportunity to sleep spiritually, but should regard this as an opportunity for repentance.
Thoughts: It was a common thought in Jesus’ day that when a calamity happened the people were especially under God’s wrath. Eliphaz said a similar thing that was refuted in the book of Job (4:7; 22:5). A few days ago Pat Robertson said, "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," Robertson said on his Christian Broadcasting Network show. "They were under the heel of the French . . . and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' "True story. And the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal,' " Robertson said. "Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."
I am not one who believes God does not wake people up through calamity or disaster, or that God does not use such things. I am also one who doesn’t believe we should not mention God at such a time as this. In fact, we should call out to God for help. Many of those who are answering the call with their time, effort and money in Haiti today are believers who are giving sacrificially during this recession to help those who are devastated. To rule that God has nothing to do with this is naïve, and is an effort to absolve God of anything while leaving the situation totally chaotic. It is not that God is sovereign over everything but the problems of life. Jesus did not indicate that in this passage. We are too quick to shrink God and kick him out of our lives. There was purposeful human evil here- Pilate killed some while they were worshipping. There was also an “act of God” in that a tower fell on others. While Sodom and Gomorrah are examples of God’s wrath (which we are not heeding- by the way); so any calamity should help us cry out to God for mercy and protection; while at the same time we should use such opportunities to do all we can to help those in need But we should indeed be slow to condemn. There is always some sin we have in our past that we could dredge up and point out we deserve God’s wrath. In fact, we all deserve God’s punishment and should be surprised at His blessing. This is where Robertson missed the mark. We all are under the devil’s domain until we come to God. Jesus reminds us, “Unless you repent you too will all perish.” . We should be slow to judge and quick to help and also quick to repent. This should be our response to Haiti- to pray for them- calling out to God, to give for them, and to ourselves turn to God.
Prayer: Today, Lord, help the people of Haiti. Give strength to the workers there. Show me how I might help. We pray that you will spare us from such tragedy, and so we turn to you for mercy and grace.
You may give through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance DR000064 (http://www.pcusa.org/) for more info. or through Lake Murray Presbyterian Church.