Saturday, 30 January 2010

We are not told why people died in the earthquake, but we are told why people die (Luke 13:1-5)

Notice the assumption in Jesus’ words. 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way? Do you think [those who died when the tower in Siloam fell] were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.' Jesus points to universal guilt. All need to repent. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome stating “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

While the Bible may tell us not to make assumptions as to why people suffer in the way that they do it does tell us why we live in a world that is spoiled by suffering and death. The book of Genesis shows the original rebellion, and then tells of God’s curse, and the fall. We are a part of a people who have rebelled against our creator and now live with the consequences. Again the Apostle Paul explains to the Roman Christians, 'Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned' (Rom. 5:12). We don’t know why some die in earthquakes, others die of cancer, and still others die peacefully in old age; but we do observe that all die. This universal reign of suffering and death is part of living in a world that is not as it was originally designed to be.

The great Christian thinker Francis Schaffer died of cancer. In the latter part of his life, when he realised that he was dying, he said that it was the Bible’s teaching on the fall that helped him and his family grasp what was happening from a Christian angle. In an article he said, ‘I think I can best explain my own reaction to the news that I had cancer by telling you the response of my four children. Each said the same thing in their own way. “Dad, we couldn’t have taken it if you hadn’t emphasised the fall so completely in your teaching.” It is the same for myself,’ wrote Schaffer, ‘I feel that no Christian can face honestly the troubles and the obscenities of this life—the sorrows, the tears, the ugliness, the cruelties unless we have a very firm belief and comprehension of what the fall is all about; and what we have to realise is that we live in an abnormal world, and not to be surprised when these things come upon us as they do other people.’

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