Archive for February, 2011

Was God Doing Something in New Zealand?

February 27, 2011

Title: Was God Doing Something in New Zealand?

Text: Genesis 6:12-14, John 9:1-3

Time: February 26th, 2011

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the terrible earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. At least 100 persons are known dead, and still more are expected dead in the days and weeks ahead. We need to keep the people of this island-nation in the Pacific Ocean in our prayers as they try to rebuild their city and their lives. Now when we hear of such news, we automatically ask the question, “Where was God?” We asked that same question around a year ago during the Haiti earthquake and its aftermath. I’ve already dealt with that issue in a couple of sermons I gave last year during the winter, but today I’d like to focus on the question that confronts us now – “Where was God in New Zealand?” Yet already people are trying to sort things out in their hearts and minds. For example, in New Zealand, a church official made a statement just this past week about the earthquake in respect to faith. He said, “And it is also of course wrong to imagine that God is punishing people by disasters when they come. I mean Christ taught us very clearly that that is a false understanding of God,” Catholic Church Bishop Barry Jones explained. So for this church leader it’s always wrong to ever think that God might be involved in anything like an earthquake. To him it’s unthinkable. And probably to most people today in the secular, modern world it would also be unthinkable to suggest that God had anything to do with anything like an earthquake or a flood or any natural disaster of any type. That kind of thinking implies that there is some kind of connection between God and activity on earth, which, in the modern era, is strongly denied. It also gives the impression that God intervenes on earth at times to reward or punish people for their deeds or misdeeds – again, this is unthinkable to the modern, secular mindset. But just like in the case of Haiti last year, I need to say very politely but very firmly, “Not so fast.” People are making a number of assumptions about God and the world that are clearly false. The secular person is automatically thinking that God couldn’t or wouldn’t ever intervene in the affairs of men and women on earth. That assumption is false. It’s saying too much to speak as the Catholic Bishop Barry Jones does when he says, “It is of course wrong to imagine that God is punishing people by disasters when they come.” No, quite frankly, it isn’t wrong to imagine that God is punishing people by disasters when they come.” It is wrong, he should have said, to automatically assume that God is punishing people by disasters when they come. But to say that it is wrong to even consider the possibility that God uses disasters to punish people for sin is going beyond the bounds of Christian theology. The fact is, the Bible describes many instances where God does punish people for their sins by sending disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, for example. What we have to ask, as Christians, is there any good reason for thinking that God might be sending or permitting a disaster to occur for a purpose? Instead of instinctively answering in the secular, modern politically correct way, we must examine the evidences to see if there’s anything in the particular situation that might have caused God to bring trouble upon people. In the case of Haiti, and again I won’t cover that topic again today, I believe the voodoo practices of the people of Haiti might have brought God’s judgment against the island. In the case of New Zealand, it’s entirely different; because there’s nothing there that immediately or obviously raises any spiritual red flags. In fact, New Zealand is pretty dull, pretty bland as far as anything spiritually offensive taking place there. But to be fair, we need to examine the situation closer. That’s what I hope to do this morning. (more…)