Christians around the globe debate the goodness of a God who would permit the kind of death and suffering we see occurring in China and spreading around the world.
All around the world, the main topic of discussion is the outbreak of the Corona Virus, and we learn that the worst may yet lay ahead. Both Christian and non-Christian people are confused. People can’t understand how a “good” God could allow thousands of innocent people to contract this disease and die a horrible death. It is not necessary to present another theological or philosophical debate to explain what, and why, these things happen, or to try and justify God. But, the question of “why?” still remains, and will not go away. After the prayers are over, and the oxygen turned off, the mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives, and children, who have lost so much, return to their homes, and ask, “Why?”
How do we balance the mercy and love of God, with the death and suffering we experience? God is still loving and full of mercy, even when we fail to understand our situation. God is perfect, and man is confused; it is man that walks the tight rope between good and evil wanting to know “why”. It is “we” who are out of balance and stumble between two realities. We ask our question from a hollowed-out heart and into an empty void, not expecting an answer; and our sickness seems forever.
God anticipated the question and has provided the answer, in His book of answers, the Bible. We will look in vain anywhere else.
Luke. 13:1-9 says everything that needs to be said for those who want the truth.
“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were guiltier than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’”
He followed this with a parable:
“A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
It was generally accepted by the Jews of that time, and many today, that if something bad, like the Coronavirus, happens to a person it is because of sin in their life. In other words, if a building falls on you, you must have been very bad. Jesus’ simple answer was, no, that isn’t true. “But, unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” So, Jesus’ answer to the Coronavirus is, no, God did not cause this plague, but He did allow it, and “unless you repent you will likewise perish.” The parable that follows, which most people overlook when considering the above passage, sheds much light on the matter. What some will see here is a mean natured God; others will see a God of mercy.
By looking closely we discover that the wrong question is being asked. They, and we, ask “why did God do this or allow this to happen?” By understanding the parable and what Jesus is trying to teach us we understand that the question should be, “Why does a perfectly just God tolerate anyone to live, why doesn’t He destroy all of sinful mankind, not just allow a few to die in a plague?” The answer is “MERCY.”
In the parable, God is the strict owner of the tree and Jesus is the gardener, who asks for mercy on the tree, for a season, to try and make the tree good and fruitful. God is also a merciful God who has waited and waited and waited, but His justice cannot wait forever; justice must prevail at some point.
It is precisely because of accidents and plagues that the preaching of the Gospel of mercy is so important. How long will God’s patient mercy be put off, the Bible says, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled,” Heb. 3:15? And, this is exactly why the message of Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, and the whole camp of the neo-liberal “Emergents” is a death sentence for anyone caught in their web of deceit. They destroy the justice of God and leave the question of “why” unanswered, and hide poor sinners from the mercy of a Father who will wait, till He can wait no longer.
Come home, poor sinner;
Why longer roam,
Thy Savior’s calling,
“Come home, come home!”
He died to save you
Behold what suff’ring!
’Twas all for thee.
Oh, come to Jesus,
Do not delay;
Come, and He’ll save you;
Come while you may.
Oh, come to Jesus;
He’s waiting still
With His salvation,
Thy soul to fill.
Oh, come to Jesus;
How can you stay,
He’s pleading, pleading;
Come, come today.