Monday, April 15, 2013

A Theology of Tragedy

In light of recent events (the shooting at Sandy Hook, the Dorner shooting and today's explosions in Boston) I believe that I have a responsibility as one who follows Christ to shed light on why tragedy happens and what your response should be whether or not you follow Christ. 
I would like to begin by admonishing you to not hold God responsible for tragedy.
 In a world full of evil events, I often hear people say,

 "If God is so good, then why does he allow suffering?" 

Ultimately God is sovereign over all circumstances. God created people to glorify Himself but instead of choosing to follow Christ, we choose to follow our sin. 
God could have wiped out all of humanity by killing Adam and Eve as a result of the original sin. Instead, being merciful and gracious, God punished their sin and allowed them to live although His relationship with His people would be tainted by sin. 
The Bible tells us that God sent His son to die and take the penalty of the world's sin upon Himself so that those who were and are to be saved could have a relationship with God. 

So, what does this have to do with tragedy?

1. As Christ followers, we have a responsibility.
Tragedy reminds us that many people die daily without having turned to Christ for salvation. While God does work to change hearts, if we claim to follow Christ, we have a responsibility to share the Gospel with others. We need to help people understand that we live in a fallen world and that the only hope we have is in Christ who is showing mercy to us by allowing us to live in the midst of tragedy and have the current opportunity of repentance. 

2. No one's sin toward you is greater than your sin toward God.
(And it never will be). Instead of thinking about how wicked and evil the criminals are in this case, consider how wicked and evil you were before Christ changed you. 

3. Show compassion.
This one is sometimes hard because it involves emotion and sometimes people have a hard time with that. Step outside of your comfort zone and serve the suffering in a way that is meaningful TO THEM.
Since Christ gave up his entire life for His children, what sacrifice is it to consider some else's needs as more important than your own? 

4. Tragedy is A Time of Thanks.
The truth is that as sinners, we deserve nothing. We all get to enjoy things and experience life on earth without knowing the full weight of our sin. My pastor always reminds our church body that for the Christ follower this life is the only hell they will ever know and for the world follower, this life is the only heaven they will know. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (ESV). Of course this is not possible by human efforts but by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in individuals who have turned from their sin, trusted that Christ's sacrifice on the cross is enough to cleanse them from sin and now allows God to see them as guiltless.

5. Repent and trust in Jesus.
Tragedy reminds us to treasure life because it is brief. Life in continual, unrepentant sin will be made shorter. Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our sins have separated us from God. Being One who is just, God must punish sin. If you don't turn from your sin and trust that Jesus' death on the cross was enough to save you, you are going to face eternity in hell separated from God. Romans 10:9-11 states, 
". . . If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame." (ESV).

I am praying for the citizens of Boston, runners from the marathon, those who are injured, families who've lost loved ones, wisdom for law enforcement, repentance of the criminal(s) and justice. I hope that if you are experiencing any kind of minor or major tragedy that you will turn to Jesus and cling to Him in the midst  and aftermath of it. 


P.S. Credit for the title goes to my friend Josh who preached a message of the same or a similar title.


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