DISASTERS & THE WORDS of JESUS -by Andrew Strom. When there seems to be one major catastrophe after another striking the nations of the world, people often ask, "Is this the Judgment of God?" Or just "natural" events? Or perhaps some combination of the two? How are Christians to view these things? One of the most important insights into these questions was given by Jesus Himself in Luke 13. He said: "Those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were sinners above all that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish." (v 4-5). So if we apply these words to Christchurch, for instance, it is obvious that the people who died were not being "judged" for being "greater sinners" than other people in New Zealand. In fact, I dare- say that Christchurch was no more or less 'sinful' than any major city in the country. It was a terrible tragedy that occurred, and it should shake us all up. But they did not die because of their "greater sins". And clearly we are to have great compassion on everyone caught up in this terrible event. The one area that I believe God IS speaking very strongly about in both the Christchurch earthquakes is the shaking of the CHURCH. In fact, the Church was the focus of my entire article a couple of weeks ago on this awful disaster. Some people thought it was about the city of Christchurch. My sincere apologies if you thought that. My focus was the CHURCH - not the city - and the sad inadequacy of the Christian response after the first quake - which did have consequences, I believe. I am convinced that we have now entered the hour when "Judgment begins at the house of God". When we see the only major city that is called "Christchurch" in the Western world being hit by two massive earthquakes - and many of the buildings most damaged are church buildings - you have to ask the obvious questions. Is God speaking to the church in no uncertain terms about the "Shaking" that is now beginning in Christendom? Are we about to see this 'Shaking' grow much worse, even to the taking down of many major ministries and voices in the church? -I have to believe so. It seems to me that the world has recently "turned a corner" where these kinds of catastrophes are suddenly much more common all around the world. Economic and political turmoil are likewise in the ascendant. Surely we have to conclude that these are some of the "birth pangs" described by Jesus - which are set to grow much worse before the end. The HUMANISTIC RESPONSE One of the things we need to watch out for as these things grow worse, is immersing ourselves too much in the "humanistic" viewpoint of the mass media. You will notice that now during these tragedies, the media is right there in people's faces, bringing as much of the trauma and grief of every tragic story home to the viewer in as lurid a way as they can. You can watch for hours as tragic stories play out one after the other in front of your eyes. But none of it is from God's point of view. It is all from the viewpoint of man - in fact, "secular human" man. This is something to be careful of. God looks at things from an "eternal" point of view. To Him the greatest disaster is for man to die in an unsaved state - totally unprepared for Judgment and eternity. God is even willing for there to be great shaking and turmoil in the earth, if it causes men to seek Him and find eternal salvation. There is none of this in "man's" media. It is just a total "human" trajedy and they have no interest in eternity at all. As the very end approaches and the earth enters the actual Judgments found in the Book of Revelation, we see that this "humanistic" viewpoint comes even more to the fore. Instead of repenting as all these judgments and disasters are hitting the earth, it seems as though people will be literally shaking their fist at God, saying, "How dare you send such things upon us? How dare you be so destructive and demand that we repent?" If all we consider is the "human" tragedy, then we can easily get caught in the same trap. We forget that the biggest disaster in the Universe is to die unsaved and unprepared for Eternity. That is the worst possible thing. We cannot immerse ourselves in "humanistic" media to the point that we only think of disasters in "human" terms. There are wider issues here - and we must make sure to take on God's point of view - not the view of "humanistic" man. But to be sure, we must "weep with those who weep". When we see tragedies, like Jesus we must not close our hearts to the broken and the hurting. Jesus wept and so must we. Let us always keep Eternity's viewpoint uppermost, however. Again, I send love and tears to our dear friends in Christchurch - and everyone else caught in recent disasters around the globe. As I have said, Christchurch to me was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, and we have lovely friends there that are very dear to us. May God be with you all at this devastating time. -Please comment on this article at the website below- http://www.johnthebaptisttv.com/ God bless you all, Andrew Strom.