Tragedies happen all the time. As of late, many have fallen victim to natural disasters. Because of the way some interpret the Old Testament, showing God’s judgement on places that were contrary to His laws, some Christians attempt to ‘explain away’ the problem of suffering in natural disasters as God’s judgment on sin. But is this true? In light of the New Testament, didn’t Jesus Christ already pay the penality for all of humanity’s sins?
In times of tragedy, Christians should not make unfounded judgements that are contrary to what God calls Christians to do—to be like Jesus: being humble, recognizing we can’t be good without God, being ready to help others in need and to give selflessly. He doesn’t ask us to do what this man tweeted:
(This tweet did not get the retweets asked for, thank goodness.)
True, biblical Christianity calls us to love others, and to be known by acts of generosity and kindness, especially in times of natural disasters. To point judgy little fingers at people who are in the middle of being devastated by disaster is absolutely cruel and not even close to the heart of the Christian faith.
What is at the heart of the Christian faith? When Jesus’ disciples asked Him how to pray, the authors of Scripture quoted His most famous prayer—The Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer, Jesus said to pray that the Father’s will would be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10). So, Christians are supposed to be working for the good of humanity by bringing a slice of heaven to the Earth by sharing the Gospel and loving one another.
How to Judge
Now, I know that some of you reading this may think I am being too soft on sin, and that the Bible actually does call us to judge. True. But when read in context, that judgement is usually focused on believers first. Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees, for example, looked good on the outside by keeping the law, but on the inside, they were white-washed tombs (Matt. 23:27.) So, when we judge, we should look in the mirror first. (Matt. 7:5.)
There is a correct way to judge (John 7:24). We need to look at the “fruit” in a person’s life—are they showing that they have been changed by the love of God, and are they doing good things towards others because of that change? (Matt. 7:18.)
What is this “fruit”? This is a spiritual condition known by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22.) These are the characters by which we can “judge” someone who claims to be a follower of Christ. But for those who don’t even know God yet? We must remember, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). This is grace. This is what we need to demonstrate to those who are not yet saved. They don’t even know what the Bible asks of them! We are supposed to share the good news with them. Good news means that you are forgiven in Christ and there is eternal life where there will be no more suffering – someday (Rev. 21:4).
What Drew Me to God
When I finally recognized I needed a Savior, it was the love of God that drew me to Christ, not the judgement. Yes, I realized that I was a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness, but it was the love of God that allowed me to see my desperate state. So, we are to love people into the Kingdom first, not judge them there.
How can we judge non-believers by a standard they haven’t even known? Sadly, even with all the access to information today, most Westerners don’t know what’s in the Bible. Biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high. And these stats are for CHRISTIANS! I mean, if our own people don’t know what’s in the Bible, how can we expect non-believers to know? To judge people by a standard that they’re clueless about is simply not fair.
How to Fish
We are called to be fishers of people (Mark 1:17). When you catch a fish, then you clean it. You don’t clean a fish first – just sayin’.
Be the love of Christ to others, first. Then allow the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin. Teach them the ways of Christ. Encourage them to study the Bible. But remember to love them into the Kingdom of God because it’s the love of God that sets people free to love Him back (1 John 4:19).
And please don’t claim that a natural disaster is God’s punishment for sin. God already punished sin on the Cross through the sacrifice of Jesus, His Son. Why do natural disasters occur then? It’s part of the Fall (Gen. 3:17), and that Creation itself awaits the day when it, too, will be set free (Rom. 8:21-22).
There will be more disasters in times ahead. Let’s be the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27) to those affected by such things, and show the world that the love of God is alive and well in His children.