Monday, January 18, 2010

Hating Haiti?

There has been considerable coverage of some 'Christian' remarks made by an American tele-evangelist, Pat Robertson concerning the recent earthquake in Haiti. They have been widely reported in the media, speaking on the alleged pact that Haitians made with the devil to free themselves from French slavery, and that the nation has been cursed since then. His broadcaster has later produced a statement saying that "Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath."

Just one person, yet the publicity his words have generated, and the negative repercussions for the image of Christianity in the media have been widespread. Perhaps Robertson should have followed the line that Jesus used when asked about freak occurrences and 'natural' disasters in his day.

1There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:1-5)

The crowds must have assumed that because the Galileans died in a horrible way, they must have been notorious sinners. After all, according to popular wisdom, your life and death is a straight reflection of your character. So if you die horribly or early, then you must have been a terrible sinner, whereas those who live into their hundreds are the most righteous. To which Jesus says - nonsense!

Suffering is not (always) a result of specific sin - we saw that when we preached through the book of Job. Sometimes suffering just happens - God is on the throne, but suffering is not related to specific sins - we live in a fallen world, things are not how they should be, disasters happen.

Similarly, it seems that in the recent Jerusalem news bulletins, people were talking about a tower which had fallen at Siloam in the city. Eighteen people lost their lives, but they weren't the worst sinners in the city. They weren't singled out for their sin.

In each case, Jesus refutes the popular understanding of sin leading to punishment in such a direct manner. The tower falling wasn't a consequence of their sin. The earthquake in Haiti was not because Haitians are the worst sinners in the world. Rather, what has happened to them may also happen to you: No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13, 3 and 5)

The same words are repeated twice. Disasters happen. Unless we repent, we will likewise perish - maybe not in an earthquake along with thousands of others, but one day sin will catch up with us. One day each of us will die - are we ready for the day, because, as Jesus makes the point, it could be sooner than we imagine. Are you ready for your own death?

If you don't want to hate the Haitians, but instead want to help them, check out heARTs for Haiti at the new Facebook page for the art sale being organised to help relief efforts.

No comments:

Post a Comment