By Leonard Lauriault: QCS columnist
Several times since shortly after Hurricane Katrina, I’ve heard comments that it and other natural disasters were the hand of God punishing evil men. Even some in the Christian community make such statements whenever natural disasters happen. That’s really sad because it’s faulty theology from a Christian standpoint for a couple of reasons and unnecessarily drives people away from God.
First, it’s likely that some righteous people perished along with the unrighteous (Romans 3:10, 22-24; James 2:21-26).
There’s no collateral damage with God. He doesn’t punish the righteous (blameless rather than sinless, Ephesians 5:25-27; Acts 2:38, 39; 1 John 1:5-9) with the wicked because he knows how to rescue the godly and punish the unrighteous at the same time and he’s even willing to withhold destruction of a whole city for 10 righteous people (2 Peter 2:4-9; Genesis 18:16-33).
Local or even widespread flooding (including that caused by hurricanes and tsunamis), earthquakes and fires (like those caused by lightning that destroy homes in California) are truly natural events that have occurred throughout history. World-wide floods and fire and brimstone aren’t naturally occurring events. God did use those to punish evil, but when was the last time something like that happened (Genesis chapters 6 to 9; 19:1-29). God doesn’t “zap” people anymore. In fact, he withholds punishment, giving everyone the opportunity to turn to him (Malachi 3:6, 7; Acts 17:30, 31). Those who choose to continue sinning are given over (permitted) to wallow in their sin only to face consequences later (Romans 1:21-32).
Second, God is good (Psalm 119:68; 145:9; Job 34:10). He doesn’t use harsh tactics to force those who aren’t his children into his family. Actually, he does good things for mankind to attract us into his family (James 1:13-17; Matthew 5:45; Luke 6:35). And he wants his children to do the same without compromising the truth (Titus 2:10). Then he simply tells us what to do to come to him (2 Peter 1:3, 4).
While teaching about sin and its temporal and eternal consequences it is necessary to demonstrate the magnitude of God’s love for us. He wants us to come to him because we recognize his love and want to show our love to him in return rather than merely being fearful of sin’s consequences (Romans 5:6-11; John 3:16; 14:15-21; 1 John 4:18).
Once we become his children, God lovingly disciplines us so we won’t face eternal, spiritual death (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Corinthians 11:32; 1 John 1:5-9; 2 Peter 3:3-9; Hebrews 9:27, 28; Revelation 20:11-15; 3:4-6; 2:10).
People who can and want to realize God’s love will want to become part of his family on his terms rather than having to be driven into it, which he won’t do (Luke 16:16; Romans 12:1, 2).
Simply put, if we accept God’s word and do what he says, he accepts us, but if we reject him by not accepting his love or by going back into the sinful life after we’ve become his children, he rejects us (Acts 10:34, 35; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; John 3:33-36; Hebrews 10:26, 27; 2 Peter 2:20-22).
The choice to accept or reject is freely ours (Joshua 24:14, 15). God’s rejection of us doesn’t happen until after we’ve exhausted our lifetime opportunity to accept him. Our problem is, Adam’s sin placed us all under the same curse of death until Jesus returns and we don’t know when our time on earth will end (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
That life is lost in natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis, as well as by murderers and risky (also sinful) behavior (like drugs, alcohol, and extra-marital sex), should remind us how fragile each human life is and that we need to accept God without delay while we have the opportunity (Acts 22:16; Romans 13:11,12; 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2).
Why don’t you offer yourself to God on his terms so he’ll accept you into his family before it’s too late?