Earthquakes, Prophecy and Love

Christians and non-Christians alike cringed at the words of a man regarding the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Pat Robertson was all over the news for blaming the Haitian earthquake on the nation's sins. It's not the first time he's been there for such pronouncements. And he's not the only one. This past summer John Piper said the tornado that hit Minneapolis was because of the ELCA's pending vote to ordain homosexual pastors. Jerry Falwell blamed a whole list of "sinners" for the 9/11 attacks. They're not the first to pronounce judgment on people or entire nations for their sins. And, unfortunately, they won't be the last.

God does still give people the spiritual gift of prophecy. But it's a gift--meant to build up the church, not condemn others. According to 1 Corinthians 14:3, the gift of prophecy is given to edify, exhort and comfort. According to Jesus, it is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to convict people (or nations) of sin, of righteousness and of judgment to come (John 16:8-11)--it's not the job of any man.

Bad things happen to everyone (even good people as Rabbi Harold Kushner has pointed out). No one is immune from natural events or the consequences of ours (or other's) sins. There is evil in the world. Our sins have let it in. We live in a fallen world--and the world isn't going to be perfect because of that. Jesus said that the rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous alike (Matthew 5:45).

The Bible has many exhortations for us to be slow and thoughtful in speaking. God does not pronounce judgments upon anyone through natural disasters. I ask you to find a place in the Bible where it says He will do so. God's message is about love for others--and that He has provided a way out of the muck and mire for us.

Pat Robertson has made many people upset. But let's not point the finger at him alone. Don't we all say things that are hurtful at times? Don't we all neglect helping someone because it's inconvenient for us? Don't we all turn a blind eye to injustice at times? I know I do. Instead of being angry at Pat Robertson, why don't we use this as an opportunity to examine our own sins. Why don't we take time to pray (not in condemnation, but in love) for him, for Haiti, for ourselves, for the world. Confess our sins--both our individual ones as well as our corporate sins. And then turn around with a forgiven (and forgiving!) hand and offer it in love to people who need our help and love. Whether it be in Haiti or the house next door.

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