Thursday, December 13, 2012

Does God Hate America?

My article fromt his week's Algona Upper Des Moines about Divine Punishment

Q:  When soldiers die and natural disasters occur, are these things a sign of God’s judgment on America for immoral lifestyles or lack of religious belief?

Even though this sort of conclusion is believed by only a small minority of Americans, several times in recent years, those small, but vocal, few have drawn media attention for their claims.  After hurricane Katrina, two prominent religious leaders insisted it was God’s judgment against New Orleans for its sins.  When another hurricane threatened the same area recently, one of them claimed it was for the same reason.  Another group insists that the death of U.S. Soldiers abroad is God’s punishment against the United States because our nation’s laws fail to punish certain types of immorality.

The thing about this, though, is that God got out of the business of having a favorite nation which were “his people” as of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  From that point forward, the New Testament is very clear that God’s people (now known as Christians or the Church) come from every nation.  God no longer works by supporting or destroying nations because of their religious convictions.  Instead, He desires that governments would provide safe and free societies where His Church can do the work of convincing people regarding morality and religious teaching. 

When Jesus is presented with a blind man in John 9, the Pharisees, and even His own followers, speculate over whose sin caused this man to be born blind.  Some said it was his own sin.  Others said it was his parents’, but Jesus responded, “It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him,” and He says in Matthew 5, “[God] makes His sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” 

Much like God’s earthly blessings and provision do not come only to Christians, but to all people regardless of spiritual standing, tragedy occurs in the same way.  All people suffer various kinds of illness and disaster.  There are devoted Christians who suffer immensely in this life while there are notoriously immoral people who are wealthy and strong.  When these tragic circumstances come upon a person or a city, it is not because God is particularly displeased with them, but rather because human sin has broken the world and thrown it off course from God’s will for it.

So, when a soldier is killed it is the result of the sin of the enemy who attacked him, not because God is displeased with him and his nation.  Likewise when a hurricane, earthquake, or tsunami threaten or destroy a city or a whole region, it is not because God is particularly displeased with them, but rather because the collective sin of humanity has brought destruction even as far as nature itself, which then returns on us—not as compensation for specific sins, but similar to a car whose driver is asleep at the wheel and takes out anyone, righteous or unrighteous, in its path. 

So, when we are healthy and have plenty, we ought not think it is because we are more worthy, and when we suffer pain and need, or even death itself, we ought not think it is because we are less worthy.  Instead, Christian teaching acknowledges that God is the author of every blessing, while humanity and its rebellious disobedience are solely and collectively responsible for all of the evils of nature and our fellow man which we face. 

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