God's Agenda For Coronavirus, Part 2
We’ll pick up here with the questions we left off with in the last post: where is God in this present crisis? Is this part of His judgment on evil, wicked people? Is God pouring out His wrath? Do we as believers need to implore God to pour out His mercy? These are not only important questions, they are necessary questions that need answers and the answers must express the full nature of God in every nuance. If God is the same and cannot change, then it follows that if anything has to change it will be our view of God and what we attribute to Him.
It has been popular to say that when horrible natural disasters hit the human population we call it an act of God. Humans have to have someone or something to blame for all their woes and troubles. However when something amazing happens, like a cure for a devastating disease, an amazing technological breakthrough, or any other world-changing discovery, we humans like to give the credit to ourselves. God gets the credit for the bad stuff, we take the credit for the good. That does not sound right, does it?
This is not a novel idea. If you go back as far as you can in human history, the Bible recounts the events that shaped the human view of God through twisted logic, fear, and self-preservation. In the Biblical account of the fall of man, we see both Adam and Eve made a willful choice to disregard God’s path for them and rather choose their own path. Their choice led to their “eyes being opened” and they now realized that the consequences of exercising free will of choice can have a devastating effect. Their choice created a chasm of separation between God and themselves and from each other. The account in Genesis says that they hid from God and when confronted with explaining the details of the event, both Adam and Eve shifted the blame- Adam blamed God for giving him “this woman” and Eve shifted the blame to the serpent that deceived her. Neither took full responsibility for their actions. I wonder what would have happened if they did take personal responsibility?
I submit to you that this is at the core of the problem. Since that moment in human history, shifting blame for bad and evil became the method of operation for humanity. If you follow the Biblical account from the Fall, humanity’s relationship with God morphed into a synchronistic blending of the worship of Almighty God with myriads of other supernatural beings to the point where the true nature of God had been lost. God in His grace and love for humanity allowed this view to continue, and even to be recorded in His book (the Bible), until He could repair humanity’s sight and heal the broken relationship between Himself and us caused by sin by coming to Earth, Himself, in Jesus. What an amazing display of patience, long suffering, and love!
All of our favorite scriptures point to this. For God so loved the world…, God, being so rich in mercy…, God, not wanting any to perish…, there are so many that point to God ALWAYS being gracious and patient with His wayward children. Here is a very powerful and definitive verse of scripture that unveils what God has always been doing and what He has always been thinking about us humans:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. [2 Co 5:18-19 NIV]
If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then God must have always been reconciling (bringing back into a peaceful relationship) the world back to Himself, not counting our sins against us. This, then, must be the very core of God’s actions towards us. If this is true, why is the world suffering in such horrible and devastating ways? Isn’t God, the Almighty, Supreme, Sovereign God, somehow responsible for what goes on in the world He created?
Yes, He does have ultimate responsibility to do something about the mess, but He has given stewardship of our present Earth and its systems to humanity (read Genesis 1), and has allowed humanity to make willful decisions about how to administer this stewardship. This administration has yielded some pretty horrible outcomes throughout history. Consider the Apostle Paul’s teaching regarding how the mess got so out of control in Romans 1:20-25. Paul states that humanity willfully chose to reject and disregard God, worship everything under the sun as God, develop a theology of God that does not represent Him, and create a world filled with evil and the necessary results of practicing evil. What was God’s response to all of this? Paul said that God “gave them over to their own desires” and allowed humanity to see and suffer the consequences of their choices to be their own gods.
A perfect expression of love must be to let the one being loved choose not to be loved. And in that choice comes the possibility of eternal separation. Love is never controlling or coercive, but is ALWAYS looking for a way to influence the one loved back into the relationship. Love never gives up, and God never will stop wooing humanity back to Himself.
Paul does say, however, that all of this disobedience and disregard caused God’s wrath to spill out on humanity. So one may say, “see, there is proof that God is the one pouring out wrath and judgment on sinful people.” Is that really what is happening? If one takes the time to step back and really study the full story of God’s relationship with man, including all the ugly and violent depictions of the Old Covenant, one will come away with a very different picture of the cause and effect nature of evil and wrath. The word wrath in the Hebrew language (the language of the Old Testament) means to spill over or to overflow. The cause of the overflow is what is in question. Again, we must understand all of God’s actions toward humanity are guided by His nature, which I have already submitted is always redemptive toward humanity. So what is overflowing? Is it God’s anger finally getting to the boiling point and He shoots out lightning bolts, earthquakes, famines, floods, and the like? Or is it the pile of evil on the side of humanity finally reaches the point where the consequences of evil finally overflow and then everyone around that evil suffers? Consider what happens when a septic tank overflows because the mess inside was not properly dealt with!
One of the laws of the universe that God created is that the wages of sin is death. This is not a punishment system but a cause and effect system. A wage is something you get for putting in hours of work. If humanity is constantly working for its own desires, the wage that will be paid back is death (physical and spiritual). God in His justice, will allow the results of our sin to spill over and effect the world around it. This is a picture of God’s wrath. He will allow the consequences of our actions to spill over. He created the system, we control the outcome. If we are honest, we as humans can see the devastating results of our choices on humanity and even on nature. Paul, in Romans 8, speaks of this when he says that all of creation was subjected against its will to the corruption of sin and is looking forward to the day when even it will be set free from the death sentence.
How did Jesus answer questions for why bad things happen to good people and is God punishing evil people with natural disasters, suffering under tyrants, and the like? Jesus’s answer must be the definitive answer. Look at these interesting verses of scripture:
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. "Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?" Jesus asked. "Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too." [Luk 13:1-5 NLT]
Wow, what is Jesus saying in all of this? Bad things happen not because the people they happen to are bad, but because all people are in need of salvation. The evil in people’s hearts creates tyrants and despots. Natural disasters, like the tower falling on people, was not an act of God’s judgment on evil people- it was just an event that was part of a natural course of the decay that is in the world. (The foundation of the tower may have been rotted and just gave way falling on and killing 18 people). Jesus is saying that ALL people need to be saved and God is not sending disasters and disease on people for their sin. It is just the opposite. Here is what Jesus said when his disciples wanted fire to come down from heaven and destroy a city of dirty, rotten sinners that had rejected his message: “you do not know what spirit you are of. The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:54).
This, I believe, must be our guiding principle for understanding any result of evil - God is on a mission to rescue us from ourselves!
We will take this another step further in the next post. We still need to answer the question: What is God’s agenda for Coronavirus?
Stay tuned, and tune in!
by Pastor Jim