As we record
this program in early 2011, large parts of the Northeastern
Australian state of Queensland are inundated with major flooding. Flood water
has covered an area the size of France and Germany combined. Officials and
relief workers, struggling to cope, say it is a “disaster of biblical
proportions.” That is the way we often describe major natural disasters.
Insurance companies call them “acts of God.”
“Act of God”
is an actual legal term – a way of saying that no human was to blame. Such
language can give people the idea that the Bible is primarily about catastrophes,
and that we’re all at the mercy of an often bad-tempered God whose “acts” are destructive,
unpredictable and life threatening. But that’s not the message of the Bible.
primary, central “act of God” described in the Bible is not bad news, but
wonderful good news. It tells us about a God who, far from being angry and
destructive, loves us with a love that is so great–he did everything that had
to be done to save us. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless,
Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous
person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God
demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ
died for us
(Romans 5:6-8, NIV).
The Son of God became a man,
suffered and died as one of us and in doing so took humanity itself into God’s
own being. It means that when we suffer, God suffers with us. We all know that every person who
lives will eventually die, but the good news is that death is not the end of our
story. Jesus’ death changed death itself. He made death a pathway to
resurrection, to new life, to a new creation in which, as Revelation 21:4 tells
us, “there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”
Christians hold this hope in
faith — faith that God, who freely took up our human cause as his own, even to
the point of dying as one of us, is true to his word. Every person who dies
will live again, and all who believe God, who trust him, will share in the
relationship Jesus has with his Father. The
core message of the Bible is not one of doom and gloom, but that despite the
suffering we experience in this life, God loves us with a love of “biblical
proportions,” and our eternal future is secure in his hands.
Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.