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Don’t miss the point

Sometimes it’s easy to miss the point.

Jesus was talking to people who asked him about some Galileans whom Pontius Pilate had killed while they were worshiping. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?” They must have implied with their question that this is what they thought. But they were missing the point, and Jesus helped them see it: “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:2,3).

The point they were missing? Tragedy and death should not lead us to stand in judgment but, instead, should lead us to sincere repentance.

It seems that when people look at tragic events in this world, they often (either intentionally or unintentionally) point to causes that may have nothing to do with the main point that God wants us to see. Destructive hurricanes and violent tornadoes? Some will say the cause is climate change. Raging wildfires? People will point to forest mismanagement or faulty electrical equipment. A worldwide pandemic? Some say it was a natural occurrence in a Wuhan wet market; others say it was the result of experimental tinkering with a dangerous virus. Tragic wars that destroy nations and kill thousands of people? People will say that the cause was either a failure of diplomacy or the result of power-hungry political leaders— or both. Violence on our streets? Some will insist that the cause of violent behavior is guns, others will blame the lax criminal justice system, and still others will say it’s the lack of social justice in our society.

To be sure, the immediate causes and reasons for tragic events in our world can sometimes be identified; at other times they are hotly debated. But when all we do is focus our attention on what may or may not have caused these events, we inevitably miss the main point that God wants us to see.

God has made clear the lessons that we should take away when catastrophes strike. First of all, he wants to remind us that we live in a world that is broken and corrupted by sin. What we see in the world around us—whether in nature or in the acts of human beings—is not what God intended. Our world is broken; it’s been corrupted by the first sin of Adam and Eve and by every sin committed since. That is the real cause of all these things, and the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of all the sinners who broke this world and continue to break it every day. These things are a loving call to sincere repentance.

A second lesson that we should not miss is that these catastrophic events should not surprise us. Jesus made it clear that in the last days we would see exactly what we are seeing now: wars and rumors of war, natural disasters, epidemics and pandemics, persecution of believers, religious deception, lawlessness, and the love of many growing cold. All these things are reminders that we are indeed in the last days and that our Savior could return at any time to transform this world to the perfection that God originally intended it to have. That point—if we don’t miss it—is a clear call to repentance as well as an encouragement to be ready at all times to see our victorious Savior returning in the clouds for his final judgment.

Look around you and see what is happening. And be sure, with God’s help, not to miss the point.

Author: Mark Schroeder
Volume 110, Number 11
Issue: November 2023

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