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Terrible Timing
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Word is circulating in right-wing circles that the Adventist doctors on board the plane that crashed in Montana recently were alleged to perform abortions and so God allowed them to die because of that part of their medical practice.  

I have friends who received a letter soon after his daughter drowned in a river she floating with the church youth group on a Sabbath afternoon, telling them that God had punished their daughter for “doing her own pleasure on the Sabbath.” 

I have another friend who was told by a number of people that he was punished with prostate cancer because of his extra-marital affair some year earlier. 

It’s really no surprise to me that people say such hurtful and harmful things at the worst possible times. There are all kinds of views of God out there and one’s view of God influences how one relates to all God has created.

A study was conducted by Baylor University in 2006, revealing the percentages of the general public (including religious people) who believe in these four distinct views of God, which I believe speak for themselves: 

31% Authoritarian God – One angry at humanity’s sins & is very willing to judge the unfaithful

23% Benevolent God – One with standards, but forgiveness & comfort are always available

16% Critical God - A Judgmental Eye is always watching, but never intervenes to punish or praise

25% Distant God - A Cosmic Force launched the world into space and then left it spinning alone

5% Atheist 
 
But I guess what surprises me most is that Grace-believing, Christ-following, humanity-loving people remain so silent when the vocal minority spreads its lies about God! What will it take for people who believe in offering second chances to anyone who has sinned (that’s ALL of us) to rise up and say to the hurtful legalists, “We don’t do that here.” “We don’t say that here.” 
 
What I am clear about is that they do not speak from a spiritually superior point of view. They are not taking the moral high ground. They are relationally immature. Their motivation is fear, and it’s time to claim the Bible promise that where love (God) is, fear is cast out. (1 John 4:18) 
 
I believe Edmond Burke is right, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [& women] to do nothing.” So here’s a starting list of steps we must courageously take (and I hope you add to it) to join God in pushing back the darkness: 

  1. Pray for the fearful, hurtful people “for they know not what they do.” Pray that love will replace the fear they harbor in their hearts for others. Ironically what it really shows is how much they loath/judge themselves. What an awful way to live!
  2. Get together with your Grace-believing, Christ-following, humanity-loving friends and make a plan to approach the “accusers of the brethren” (and sisters) and in a loving way tell them “we don’t do that in this spiritual community.”
  3. Create a safe place (small group, Sabbath School class, house church) for the battered and bruised that is a city of refuge. (Numbers 35) Advocate for the accused at church board meetings and business meetings and SS classes, and in the hallways at church.
INNOVATIONewsletter - April 2, 2009