What about those eighteen people in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on them? Do you suppose this proves that they were worse than all the other people living in Jerusalem (Luke 13:4)?Here is my warning. I’m a little hot under the collar this week and so I’m about to vent. My intention is to remember that if it has flesh and blood, it’s not our enemy, for truly, “We are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age” (Ephesians 6:12).
With that said, let me explain.
I have had it with the repeated instances in which I have heard the tragedies that have struck Japan over the last few weeks explained as being a punishment from God. Jesus flat out rejected this “Old Testament” picture/understanding of God in relation to tragedies:
What about those eighteen people in Siloam who were killed when the tower fell on them? Do you suppose this proves that they were worse than all of the other people living in Jerusalem (Luke 13:4)?
Over the last few weeks, I have heard repeated over and over again that cultural cliché that hurts my heart every time I hear it, “God is in control.” The apostle John wrote exactly the opposite when he took in the tragedies of this world: “We know that we belong to God even though the whole world is under the control of the Evil One” (1 John 5:19). Did you catch it? If this is the type of world that exists when GOD is in control, then heaven is going to be an extremely scary place. But John stated that it’s not God who is at the helm of the atrocities we witness taking place down here on planet Earth.
Let me quickly also add a point of which my Jewish friends frequently remind me. If you were to ask a Jew if he believes in the existence of the Devil, he would frankly tell you that a “devil” is the invention of the Christians to absolve themselves of guilt. I want to be clear. I do believe in a Devil, but I believe that the belief in a Devil also has been abused. Too often, we blame him for things that are really our fault! No one can say, “The Devil made me do it.”
So when I look at the atrocities that are taking place in Japan, I have to realize that Mother Nature is not functioning in the least part the way God intended her to. The laws of nature were designed to preserve and sustain life, not to tear life apart. Why are the laws of nature themselves so out of whack with their original design? I look at Japan today and I have to drop to my knees and with tears streaming down MY face say, “God forgive ME!” Forgive me for the rebellion that is in MY heart against you and the intrinsic chain of events that my rebellion against You and Your radical, other-centered, self-sacrificial love has set in motion on this planet. God, forgive me for the selfishness that’s in MY heart and the indirect and unintentional effects that MY selfishness has set in motion.” I, myself, can’t even blame other human beings for indirectly and unintentionally causing the tragedies in Japan. The apostle Paul understood this: “Do you, my friend, pass judgment on others? You have no excuse at all, whoever you are. For when you judge others and then do the same things which they do, you condemn yourself” (Romans 2:1).
It would be too easy to blame God, under the misconception of the role He is playing in the affairs of this planet. It would be too easy to blame the Devil for things he also did not do (remember, no one can say the devil “made” me do it). It would even be too easy to blame other people who have gone before me for their abuses of this planet, which are causing it to respond in ways that wreak untold pain and heartache in the lives of those who are innocent (like Japan). I must instead, look the tragedies of Japan in the face and simply say to Japan and to God, “I’m so so sorry for the rebellion against the principle of other-centered love that is in my heart. I’m so so sorry.”
Who is to blame for Japan? It’s me, Herb Montgomery.
God forgive me.
Thank you for your patience with my heart’s ranting this week. I pray you can understand and embrace the truth in what I intend to say. May we not blame God for the things for which we, as humans, are responsible. May we be the ones, even if the blame falls on us, who say what is right about our God. May we be grouped with the ones, in whose mouths is found “NO LIE” about God (Revelations 14:5).
May we learn, in the light of God’s Calvary love for us to also love like the sun, love like the rain, and keep enlarging the kingdom (Matthew 5:44-45).
I wish you (and those hurting in Japan) God’s best this week.