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Our Response to Tragedy

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If suffering is the result of sin, then the greater the sin, the greater the suffering. It should not be too difficult to pick out who the worst sinners are. There are people who tend to categorize people by the degree of sin that is evident in their lives. And, while they get caught up in who has the worst sin, they find it more difficult to spot sin in themselves than in other people.

Lectio Devina
NLT
Several years ago I remember seeing a story where a pastor was electrocuted as he prepared to baptize some new converts.
Our response to tragedy reveals what we believe about God.
Our response to tragedy reveals what we believe about God.
Several years ago I remember seeing a story where a pastor was electrocuted as he prepared to baptize some new converts.
Several years ago I remember seeing a story where a pastor was electrocuted as he prepared to baptize some new converts.
Evidently he grabbed a hold of a microphone and it somehow shorted and the congregation had to watch helplessly as their pastor died from electricity pouring through his body.

Sometimes a person rationalizes his or her sin, thinking, What I did is not nearly as bad as what my neighbor did. His sin was worse than mine, so until he is punished and gets straightened out, there is no pressure on me. Sin is a violation of the law of God, and repentance is the necessary step in restoring one’s relationship with Him.

I remember thinking how terrible this was for his family and for his church and had decided that I would request that we pray for this church and this pastors family at a weekly pastors prayer time we had in our community.
when several of us pastors got together at ta weekl.
After all what could be more appropriate than pastors praying for other pastors? However instead of being greeted with agreement from all of the pastors one of the pastors immediately said…and I quote...”I wonder what sin was in the life of this Pastor that led to him dying this way?”
This was the first time I ran into someone that had such punitive view of who God is. Unfortunately there are still plenty of people that hold these types of ideas.

True repentance results in changed behavior. When a person experiences a heart change, it will show up in changed attitudes and actions

It seems that whenever there is a tragedy like this there are those who are willing a ready to label the cause as God’s judgment. We have all seen and heard people doing things like this.

God looks for fruit as natural outcomes in the lives of those to whom He has given life. The fruit of the Spirit is the result of the new life we received when we were regenerated and the work of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. Paul identifies this fruit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23). The fruit of the Spirit may not yet be mature in us, but it should be evident and growing.

I remember one prominent TV Christian leader that said the Hurricane Katrina was judgment on the sinfulness of New Orleans. I remember hearing another popular “Christian Leader” speak about how a tsunami in Indonesia was judgment on the Islamic people.

The lesson of the parable was that Israel was “a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isa. 61:3) and His “vineyard on a fertile hillside” (Isa. 5:1), but unless Israel repented and turned back to God, they would be cut down. Israel’s history is full of mercy and opportunity, and so is our personal history.

These are just the tip of the iceberg…if you dig in your memory I am sure man of you can come up with examples of how some one some where trying to make sense of the senseless tried to invoke God as the cause because of the sin or disobedience of people.
I am sure that if you dig in your memory you can come up with examples of how someone somewhere trying to make sense of the senseless tried to invoke God as the cause because of the sin or disobedience of people.
The truth is facebook and other social media is full of this type of propaganda.
The problems with this is that it puts forth a view that God is not only the author of such events but that He is vindictive towards those that need Him the most.
Think about it for a moment…whether or not people have self inflicted tragedy on themselves or they have been part of some natural tragedy does not take away from the fact that they need Jesus in that moment more than anyone else on the face of the planet.
It used to be that in times like this the people of God would reach out to comfort but now it seems that some would rather reach out with sarcasm.
When you and I invite this view of God into our lives as fact we become what we believe about God. We become punitive, petty, judgmental and quite frankly just plain mean.
The passage we are looking at today points to two different events in which it seems people were looking to hold the sins of the people these things happened to responsible for their own death. Luke 13:1-5
this response to both natural and human-created disaster is nothing new, since the text in Luke today points to two different events in which it seems people were looking to find the sins of the people. The first, Galileans who had been killed at Pilate’s hand. The second, eighteen who died when a tower fell on them.
Are these catastrophes due to sin the in the lives of the victims? Why would God allow such suffering to take place?
The way Jesus talks about them seems to imply that others were talking about them, discussing them, probably in much the same way we discuss these issues today.
Are these catastrophes due to sin the in the lives of the victims? Why would God allow such suffering to take place?
These are not new questions, and while some of us move into the realm of the wrath of God with surety, Jesus’s response is different.
He declares with authority that it is not the fault of the victims and that they are not being punished for their sins.
are not being punished for their sins. He then turns the question around. The question of calamity then becomes less about the victims and more about ourselves. Catastrophe happens, but we are the ones who are called to repentance. We are the ones who are called to be prepared in case of disaster. We are the ones who are called to bear fruit.
He then turns the question around. The question of calamity then becomes less about the victims and more about ourselves.
Those living in a fallen world must stop looking at others sins as more egregious than our own and understand that not one of us can stand in the presence of God without genuine repentance and reconciliation.
Those living in a fallen world must stop looking at others sins as more egregious than our own and understand that not one of us can stand in the presence of God without genuine repentance and reconciliation.
Jesus’s Response to Disaster
When Disaster Happens
More about the disasters
The first is the Galileans killed at the hands of Pilate.
The first is the Galileans killed at the hands of Pilate.
We don’t know much about this event but what we do know is this.
Galileans were known to push the envelope politically. There were constant uprisings in this regions and from time to time this invited the wrath of the Roman Empire. Pilate was a Roman ruler placed in charge over Jerusalem to keep the peace at the center of Jewish worship.
Pilate was a Roman ruler placed in charge over Jerusalem to keep the peace at the center of Jewish worship.
peace at the center of Jewish worship.
There was an incident prior to Jesus, where Pilate sent soldiers out to kill pilgrims coming to worship out of fear of insurrection. He killed them in the Temple so that their blood mingled with the blood of the sacrifices of God.
We also know that there was an incident prior to Jesus, where Pilate sent soldiers out to kill
People were talking and they were basically saying that this had to be judgment on these Galileans.
pilgrims coming to worship out of fear of insurrection.
We also know that Jesus was a Galilean, so this news would be something he was probably familiar with at the time.
We also know that Jesus was a Galilean, so this news would be something he was probably
familiar with at the time.
We can infer that, most likely, these Galileans were Jews who were coming to Jerusalem to
worship, but Pilate thought they were insurrectionists there to stir up trouble, so he mur- dered them, thus mingling their blood with the blood of their sacrifices.
The second is the tower of Siloam falling and killing eighteen people.
The second is the tower of Siloam falling and killing eighteen people.
Unlike the first disaster, this seems to be purely accidental.
Siloam was a neighborhood south of Jerusalem.
Siloam was a neighborhood south of Jerusalem.
There also is little known about this event other than what we read here in the text.
There also is little known about this event other than what we read here in the text.
We can infer, however, that—whether by earthquake, time, wind, or faulty building—a tower fell, killing eighteen people in the collapse.
We can infer, however, that—whether by earthquake, time, wind, or faulty building—a
Again though the talk at the water cooler pointed to the idea that God did this because those 18 people must have done something wrong.
tower fell, killing eighteen people in the collapse.
b. These great disasters seem to be referenced in very much the same way that we see disasters referenced today.
These great disasters seem to be referenced in very much the same way that we see disasters referenced today.
They seem to be fairly common knowledge. These were probably events that people were talkng about and speculating about among themselves.
Questions begin to arise. Why? Why did this happen? Did they deserve these horrors? What is the purpose of suffering and death?
These are not unlike the questions we ask when times of turmoil happen today....Our need to lay blame often overwhelms our compassion.
These are not unlike the questions we ask when disaster happens.
2. Jesus’s Response to Disaster
Jesus’s Response to Disaster
He definitively declares that it is not the fault of the people killed. a.Though people were saying it was due to their sin, Jesus states definitively that it was not.
a.Though people were saying it was due to their sin, Jesus states definitively that it was not.
He does not blame the victims. b. He turns the questions around to those asking the questions.
Copyright © 2018 The Foundry Publishing. Permission to print, distribute, and copy for church use only. All rights reserved.
b. He turns the questions around to those asking the questions.
b.He does not blame the victims. b. He turns the questions around to those asking the questions.
Instead of focusing on the victims of the disasters, he focuses on the response of the people talking about the disasters.
b.He tells the people to repent. i. “Repent” often means to view things with new eyes, to have a new heart, to turn in a new direction. ii. The focus, then, is not on what others had done but on what those who are talking are doing. Are they people of repentance?
He tells the people to repent. i. “Repent” often means to view things with new eyes, to have a new heart, to turn in a new direction.
ii. The focus, then, is not on what others had done but on what those who are talking are doing.
i. “Repent” often means to view things with new eyes, to have a new heart, to turn in a new direction. ii. The focus, then, is not on what others had done but on what those who are talking are doing.
direction. ii. The focus, then, is not on what others had done but on what those who are talking are do-
Then is He tells a parable.
c.He tells a parable.

6 Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. 7 Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’

8 “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9 If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’ ”

ing. Are they people of repentance? c.He tells a parable.
The story about a fig tree focuses on the production of fruit. If a tree does not bear fruit, you do not just kill it; rather, you tend it and give it another opportunity to grow when given the right nutrients.
The story about a fig tree focuses on the production of fruit. If a tree does not bear fruit, you do not just kill it; rather, you tend it and give it another opportunity to grow when given the right nutrients.
If the fig tree still doesn’t produce fruit, even with the right nutrients, then it is to be cut down.
iii.This is not a parable about the people who died; rather, it is a parable about the people who are listening. They are to bear fruit. They are to flourish in the ways of God.
Even when it seems that the owner made up his mind the master gardener felt he had the ability to produce fruit given care and effort.
That is God’s response for us…for you…for me…Even though many of us have not produced fruit in a long time God is willing to care for us in a way that if we will truly repent can make a profound difference in us and in the world.
The parable of the fig tree is a lesson for us; we are people who are supposed to bear fruit.
Are there people growing in their faith as a result of your care?
3. Our Response to Disaster
a. When disaster happens, are we quick to blame victims?
Do we examine the sins of those who have died?
Do we ask why is this happening?
Do we ask why is this happening?
b. How often do we examine our own hearts?
The parable of the fig tree is a lesson for us; we are people who are supposed to bear fruit.
The fruit we are supposed to bear is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.
If we are not bearing the fruit of the Spirit, what must we do to ensure that we are repenting and being fertilized for growth?
i. Maybe there are things in our lives that need to be pruned away.
stripping things away things that are keeping us from life with Jesus. ii. Maybe we need to add fertilizer, spending more time with the scriptures, in prayer, or in a
small group. iii.Maybe we need to spend more time in self-reflection instead of focusing on what others
This is a key part of Lent, stripping things away things that are keeping us from life with Jesus.
are doing.
ii. Maybe we need to add fertilizer, spending more time with the scriptures, in prayer, or in a small group.
iii.Maybe we need to spend more time in self-reflection instead of focusing on what others are doing.
Those living in a fallen world must stop looking at others sins as more egregious than our own and understand that not one of us can stand in the presence of God without genuine repentance and reconciliation.
Are these catastrophes due to sin the in the lives of the victims? Why would God allow such suffering to take place?
These are not new questions, and while some of us move into the realm of the wrath of God with surety, Jesus’s response is different.
He declares with authority that it is not the fault of the victims and that they
He then turns the question around. The question of calamity then becomes less about the victims and more about ourselves.
Those living in a fallen world must stop looking at others sins as more egregious than our own and understand that not one of us can stand in the presence of God without genuine repentance and reconciliation.
Copyright © 2018 The Foundry Publishing. Permission to print, distribute, and copy for church use only. All rights reserved.
Our response to the pain of others reveal what we believe about God.
What is your response?
We often worry and fret over the lives of others without examining our own hearts. Jesus’s words are hard here, about how the focus should be less on what others have done and more on the type of people we are supposed to be.
CONCLUSION
We are supposed to be people of repentance who bear fruit of love and grace to the world around us.
Is there a self righteous attitude that keeps you from Joy?
Is there a sense of entitlement that keeps you from compassion?
Is there simply a sense of pride that keeps you from embracing a correct understanding of God?
Take time to repent of the things that are holding you back from a full relationship with Jesus and to grow the fruits of love, grace, and peace that God is asking us to grow.
Altar.
Communion.
We are supposed to be people of repentance who bear fruit of love and grace to the world around us.
Take time to repent of the things that are holding you back from a full relationship with Jesus and to grow the fruits of love, grace, and peace that God is asking us to grow.
Is there a sense of entitlement that keeps you from compassion?
Is there simply a sense of pride that keeps you from embracing a correct understanding of God?
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