No Publicists

I love the Northeast. There will be some who can't relate, but I'm captivated by the sheer megalopolis that is the old thirteen. Where I grew up in New Jersey, I had the unique opportunity of living within a half-day's drive from D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, and Boston. In fact, my first experience with the Chicago suburbs was one of anxiety as we got further and further west, and I realized that there wasn't another city for hundreds of miles. As far as I was concerned growing up, anything west of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania was wilderness.

So it especially saddens me when I see my homeland undergoing tragedy. I felt a sense of loss last year when the place my wife and I had our first date was flooded by Sandy. Even though I don't have any friends in Connecticut, the Sandy Hook shooting was still close to home. And yesterday, we found ourselves checking with friends in the Boston area who thankfully reported in safe. But we know some weren't so lucky.

The Boston Marathon bombing will go down in infamy if for nothing else that its gruesome, gut-wrenching brutality. People died. And the resulting scene was a spectacle that would make Jigsaw's stomach turn. In things like these, we often cry, "Why God, why?" We certainly wouldn't expect anyone to say, "Thank you, Jesus!"

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Believe it or not, there are Christians who will look favorably on this event. After all, Boston is the capital of liberal America--where human entitlement has run amuck and good old-fashioned, Christian America is being shoved out. Vengeance is the Lord's! He will repay! And, apparently, he's out to get those dirty, rotten liberals. Actually, you don't often hear God naming and claiming his vast and sundry judgments. Perhaps that's because there are already plenty of self-imposed publicists working on his behalf.

Now, I have no interest in getting involved in the "Christian America" debate here. So instead of chasing after the wind, I'm going to address the freelance publicists directly: STOP SPEAKING FOR GOD.

First of all, God does a great job speaking for himself. Remember Jesus words at the tragedy of Siloam:
Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?  I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:2-5).
We're all sinners. We all fall short of what God intends for us. So we have no right to go spouting judgments in his name as some have a tendency to do. He doesn't need our help. And when he wants to make his judgments known, he'll do so.

Second, God does not often reveal his will. Some things are hidden from us, and often times they involve purposes we can't understand in the moment. This should be cause for hesitancy and discernment. Think yourself a prophet? There's a fun little test for that in Deuteronomy. Let me know how that works out for you.

Finally, God is in charge. He makes the rain fall on the good and bad alike. This means that God causes stormy days just as much as sunny ones. Theologians will get bent out of shape here because they fear the notion of God being the "author of evil." As if such finite, logical constructs could trap the God who has determined the course of all human existence. Because if God merely "permits" evil, then he only "permits" good. And such a deity is more capricious than caring. Instead, take comfort in knowing that God causes all things and will make good all of the terrible things that happen. ALL of them.

This world is fallen. From the people to the dust, all of it is depraved. In other words, we suck. This isn't going to change. We're never going to finally get civilized. Instead, we'll continue to fight and kill for the pettiest of reasons. But God has directed our paths. He knows their end, and he has a reason for it (as opposed to the petty reasons we could come up with). It's difficult--better, excruciatingly impossible--when that path leads us into tragedy. Then again, so is trusting God. So wouldn't you rather that come from a God who can control things than one who can't?