Sat May 18, 2013
by Hugh Whelchel
Resurgence roundup, 5/17/13
Fri May 17, 2013
Grace all the way
Wed May 15, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
How to be on mission in the city
Wed May 15, 2013
by Stephen Um
How to love people well
Tue May 14, 2013
by Dave Bruskas
God, Sandy, and the Christian’s response
In the last 24 hours, Tropical Storm Sandy has wreaked havoc along the East Coast of the U.S. and in the Carribean. For those of you who are eager to help, our friends at Apostles Church, an A29 church right in NYC, have already mobilized their Sandy relief efforts. Additionally, they’re routing volunteers to City Hall.
We at the Resurgence and Mars Hill are praying diligently for the families, businesses, churches, and schools that are suffering greatly.
It is urgent that Christians respond as Jesus did when he saw people in great pain. He didn’t pontificate with cold philosophy, nor did he patronize suffering people with pithy aphorisms like “Let go and let God.” It is precisely because he was God that he did not let go. Jesus’ heart broke and he wept when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:35). He put his hands to work to feed the starving (Mark 6:30–44). He rejected religious bigotry and restored a woman’s dignity and saved her life (John 8:1–11).
Ready to respond
As Christians, we are to have broken hearts to broken situations with ready hands, open ears, generous checkbooks, and with the promises that horrible tragedies like this really are all going to end one day.
Jesus’ beloved disciple John said “We love because [God] loved us first” (1 John 4:19). We serve God and our neighbors because God served us first. Jesus said that he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The call of Christianity in situations like this one today is not to work for our salvation or even to work at our salvation. Rather, it is to work out our salvation, which today might sound like “How can we help, love, and serve our neighbors in need?”
I can easily relate to the cynics, skeptics, and doubters who question God’s goodness or even existence on days like today.
How can I trust God today looking at this mess? This weather is literally dark, bleak, and gut-wrenching. And the writers of the Bible lived in this same world with earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, famines, and plagues and still looked the people of this world in the face and declared in faith that “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
So where’s God right now? In this aftermath of Sandy, some will undoubtedly try to make the case that this storm is the judgment of God on wicked people or it is God’s way of delaying the election to give people time to rethink their votes or any other number of scenarios. If you’re one of these folks, please hold your tongue. In fact, you’re really hard-pressed to make that case. There’s no prophet, no divine word from God that says emphatically, “This is the work of God for such-and-such a purpose.”
Most assuredly, this hurricane will cause Christians to pray and may even lead some non-believers to trust Jesus, the God of the Bible. However, those two things would have happened inevitably. Until Christ returns, Christians will pray and non-believers will be meeting Jesus.
Nothing is outside his providence
There are what we call “natural disasters,” and then there are those events in Scripture where God takes full credit for course of nature. This doesn’t mean that God checks in and checks out of the world, treating our home like a hotel.
This also doesn’t mean that natural disasters are outside of his providence by any stretch. The Bible addresses God’s control over nature uniquely as the authors tell that on certain days and certain times God is specifically using nature to bring about his desired purposes.
We live in a broken world
Sandy will cause us to speculate the theological implications behind her, and there is nothing that happens in this world outside of God’s providence—but today we have no ultimate theological answer about why Sandy destroyed so much other than to say that our world has been under a curse as a result of sin (Rom. 8:20) and that because of the good work of Jesus, God has promised that he is going to create a new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1) and for that we wait with eager patience (Rom. 8:23, 25).
So, suffering doesn’t call just for theological pontificating. Proper Christ-centered theology first responds to brokenness with brokenness. “Weep with those who weep,” says Paul in Romans. We are to respond as Jesus did when he encountered people who had experienced great loss. Love them, serve them, care for them.
East Coast U.S., Haiti, Cuba, Carribean nations, we are praying today that through the deep pain, you will know that you can cast “all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). You are loved by Jesus and his church.