In recent weeks our world shook under the weight of revolutionary actions and natural disasters. In times like these people seek to make sense of events that confuse and stagger the wisest among us. From the comfort of their living room couch most Americans watch in relative safety unspeakable violence and suffering.
In one news cycle our attention turned from a brutal evil dictator fighting for survival in Libya to the footage of the tsunami that washed away much of the northern coast of Japan. As these events unfold before our eyes our hearts seek to make sense of it all.
The question that haunts us as we try to go to sleep at night is “why”! The governor of Toyko Shintaro Ishihara told reporters that the natural disaster striking at the heart of Japan was “punishment from heaven” in response to the greed of the Japanese. Often in times like these God is often identified as the likely culprit. If greed calls down judgment from heaven then America needs to watch out.
On an occasion much like today, a group of seekers cornered Jesus with probing questions about the suffering around them at the hands of their Roman oppressors, and a natural disaster caused by a falling tower. Listen closely to Jesus’ response.
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 more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:2-5 NIV
As you probe Jesus’ answer some very strong messages come out. Jesus points out that suffering often is not because the victims are worse sinners than others. In other words, it is not the direct result of their sin, but don’t miss His emphasis when he says, “but unless you repent–you too will all perish.” Jesus challenges the seekers to stop trying to explain the events around them, but rather to get their hearts and lives right with God now. Jesus called for repentance–which means to “change your mind” or “reverse your course” or “turn your life around.”
We would be wise to heed His warning. Is your heart right with God? Are you ready to stand before the Lord at a moment’s notice? Sadly, we have learned recently how quickly life can change. Listen to Jesus and start seeing the world around you through His eyes before it is too late.