Commentary: Questions of Disaster and Judgment
- Chuck Colson Chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries
- 2005 26 Dec
December 26, 2005
I get a lot of questions about all kinds of subjects. But the question I’m asked most often these days is about hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, and bird flu.
No, I haven’t become a geologist or a biologist. People are asking whether I think all these disasters are signs of God’s judgment.
Admittedly, there has been a remarkable confluence of catastrophic events. And people are inevitably going to be depressed and worried by it all. But is this God’s judgment? The only answer I can give is: I don’t know.
The best anyone can say is that it could be. Why wouldn’t a holy and righteous God be angry with a world that seems to have forgotten Him? America and Europe were once considered the seat of Christendom, and yet, when the European Union was drafting its new constitution, it took out all references to God, even from the preamble. There was a great debate over this, but in the end the majority of delegates voted to strip any references even to the Christian history of Europe. It’s madness! There would be no Western Europe today without the God of the Bible. The Christian Church is responsible for the most important formative institutions of the West.
And what about America? Here in this country that paid homage to the laws of nature and nature’s God in framing our founding documents, we are now arguing about letting men marry men and women marry women. Upwards of 40 million unborn children have legally had their lives taken. We’re telling school kids they can’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance if it refers to one nation under God. And perhaps most offensive, we’re now learning, through biotechnology, how to create a human being made in the image of man.
Is it any wonder so many of us worry about God’s judgment?
But when questions like this get asked, I always think about the way that Jesus answered them. When some of Jesus’ followers complained that the Romans had killed Galileans worshiping at an altar, Jesus responded by saying, “Do you think they were worse sinners than others? Unless you repent, you too will perish.” He then used the example, as well, of a tower in Siloam that fell. Again He told them that the eighteen killed in that disaster were no more guilty than anyone else. “But,” He repeated, “unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
That’s what’s known as one of the hard sayings of the Bible. What Jesus was telling the questioners was this: Don’t complain about what God does. Repent yourself.
Maybe that’s what we should be doing.
The responsibility of repentance rests first and foremost on the Church of Christ. Can you imagine what might happen in this country and around the world if Christians were to demonstrate what it means to repent of our own sins? I think we ought to find out.
I don’t know whether all these cataclysmic events that are going on are God’s way of judging us or not. No one can know that. But I do know one thing: We evangelicals can often be very good at showing hubris. Well, maybe it is time as this year draws to an end that we ought to try instead a healthy dose of repentance.
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