The year of 2011 has seen many natural disasters in America. Earthquakes, tornados, snowstorms, one hurricane so far, snowstorms, floods, and wildfires have visited this land. Of course there have been disasters in other parts of the world, but here in America we tend to cover these events with much more passion than those in other countries. I guess that is to be expected.
But the church in America has a tendency to use these events as the voice of God speaking to this nation. Many preachers, enamored with their own voice, suggest that God is warning and punishing America for her sins. If that be the case, God has lost His touch. I mean let’s compare what men consider God’s hand of disaster here with what has happened in the past. There have been two major cases of flooding in China that have killed almost two million people a piece. The earthquake in Haiti killed more than 300,000, and the Indonesian tsunami killed 250,000. And for the divine coup de grace of disasters, the Black Death claimed over two hundred million people. God was really hitting home runs back then!
But now some evangelicals claim that an earthquake on the eastern coast of America which claimed no deaths is God speaking to the nation. Poor God, He’s lost His voice. Old age maybe? And Hurricane Irene claimed under 50 deaths. God’s aim is way off these days. In fact, the terrorists on 9/11 did more damage than God seems to do these days. But sarcasm aside, can you not see how absurd these preachers are when they present natural disasters as divine mouthpieces?
But why do they claim such things? Well beside employing the melodramatic in order to draw attention to their superior spiritual insight, many America preachers hold both this nation and its people in much higher regard than the people who died in the disasters I mentioned before. As you listen to these men you might believe that God is consumed with America, and that He values American lives much greater than any other lives in the world. Think about this. During the war in Iraq, I have heard many preachers pray for the safety of American troops, and even some asking God for military victory. But I have never heard one ask God to protect Iraqi non military citizens. And I have not heard one ask God to protect the lost soldiers, and if need be, let a believing soldier die so that a lost soldier can still be saved. God isn’t consumed with America, we are.
Almost every church takes at least one Sunday to recognize people who have served or are serving in the military. What does that have to do with worshiping God? Have you ever been in a service where believers around the world who were martyred for Christ were identified and recognized? In fact, during the war in Iraq there were many believers who gave their lives for the cause of Christ, but they were not spoken of or honored the way American soldiers were. What kind of religion have we created? An American version of Christianity that takes the spotlight off of Christ and shines it on men and women who happen to be American. It is most sad.
This is not an American gospel, and God is not speaking to America. In fact, God IS speaking to the church about being His mouthpiece to this lost and dying world. But rich, lazy, and deceived men will still insist that the latest natural disaster is God’s way of speaking to a nation. While they sit in their air conditioned studios, offices, and church auditoriums, they remove the redemption and glory of the cross by suggesting God wants lost sinners to stop sinning. What God wants most of all is that sinners run to His eternal sacrifice and by faith be born again. I can remember when I was not saved, and I doubt that a hurricane or earthquake or a tornado would draw me to Christ. And if I had heard some bellicose preacher tag these events with God’s name, that would have repelled me from coming to Christ.
But do you know what might have drawn me to Christ during and after these natural disasters? If the followers of Jesus were passionate about helping those affected by those disasters instead of spouting divine judgment upon the idol they call America which in their words is designed to “bring America back to God”. Of course one major element in “bringing America back to God” is economic prosperity. What a sad state of affairs.