Thursday, August 25, 2011

Natural Evil

I was sitting in a large ballroom with 400 of my closest friends yesterday when I felt it; I knew exactly what it was. I leaned over to my friend and whispered “earthquake”. Sure enough, a few seconds later we were on the streets of Baltimore waiting for the tremors to end and get the “all clear” to re-enter the Baltimore Hilton.

Tomorrow we fly down to Orlando to lead a retreat. Can you say “Hurricane Irene”?

When natural disasters strike we often wonder where God is in the mix. Does God cause these things to happen? If so, why? Is God helpless to prevent these things from happening? If so, is God really omnipotent? Is this just the way the world is? Or is it a result of some kind of evil? Here are some of the ways others have described it.

1. Natural disasters are God’s punishment on the wicked. Undoubtedly you have heard someone say that AIDS is God’s punishment on the gay community or that Hurricane Katrina was sent by God to clean out New Orleans. But then again, what about infants who contract the HIV virus or innocents who drown in NOLA? Not very satisfying to say God is just, but those folks are just “collateral damage”.
2. Others say God allows these things to happen so that good can come from it. Take a look at the Church’s response to natural disasters throughout history. We step up to the plate and become the visible presence of Christ in the world. That’s good stuff! People come to Christ through our ministrations and we have the opportunity to flex our missional muscles. But do we really serve a Heavenly Father who will cause death and misery to some of his children so that other children can do good deeds? I don’t think that is the God our Bible teaches us about.

Instead, I think these natural disasters are a result of our fallen state. If you read the third chapter of Genesis you will see that in the fall we become estranged not only from God, but also each other, ourselves, and creation. Simply put, before the fall there were no natural disasters. And to add hope to this message, when Christ returns in final glory and puts all things right again, once again there will be no estrangement between us and God’s creation and hence, no natural disasters.

You and I live in the “in between times”. We live between the fall and the final consummation of God’s kingdom. So, let’s not grow weary in doing good. Let others see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.

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