God's immanence in blessings and curses...
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
(Tim) The headline ran, "Some see human link in severity of U.S. floods." It piqued my interest, so I read the teaser: "Natural disasters like floods are normally blamed on
nature, but some experts believe humans are at least partly responsible
for this month's massive flooding in Iowa and elsewhere in the US farm
Right. Nature and man are blamed, but God is absent. Man can sin against nature and mother nature can take her revenge, but the discipline and judgment of God only comes in the life to come...
God is banned from being an agent of suffering in this life. We're perfectly amenable to His pouring out blessings in the here and now but He must wait for the passing of this world to be the agent of discipline or destruction.
We talk about God's direct agency in blessings without the slightest hesitation, never balking at the ubiquitous talk of God blessing this and that man--"God blessed me with a godly husband," "God blessed him with a job perfectly suited to his gifts," "The Lord built his church to number in the thousands because he's such a godly man and preaches such good sermons"--but when it comes to AIDS, poverty, Katrina, flooding in Indiana, or 9/11, we're quick to spread assurances that our God is long suffering and plentuous in mercy, and we oppose anyone who dares to say that any particular disaster, catastrophe, or suffering is sent by God to call a man, his family, city, state, or nation to repentance.
Of course I don't claim to know the mind of God. I fully admit my own convictions are fallible concerning God's agency in the consequences of my own and others' sin. But our inconsistency is startling when we allow statements to be made of God's direct blessings of this or that man or nation without protest or warning, while condemning those who speak of God's discipline, judgment, or curse.
Still, there's a wonderful inconsistency abroad. We continue to believe in God's agency in the sad affairs of man as proven by this utterance often heard from our lips explaining our own suffering or failure: "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling" (Proverbs 16:18). I don't know about you, but often I see that destruction and find the Holy Spirit using it to call me to repentance.
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