Scott Hovater, PhD, grew up in the Pacific Northwest and spent 16 years as a college professor in Taiwan before becoming the manager of online faculty for the College of Theology. He has a degree in TESOL, an MA in intercultural studies, an MA in educational psychology and a PhD in educational studies. He and his wife, Jenny, have 2 children.
Life can seem scary and frightening at times. The daily news is full of stories of innocent people being killed or seriously hurt by natural disasters, disease, mass shootings, drunk drivers or just simple accidents. It seems like no matter what we do, we might just end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. What are we to do? Should we hide away from the world trying to avoid all possible scenarios that might cause us harm? Certainly most would agree that hiding away from the world is not really an option. Besides, who’s to say tragedy cannot befall us even while we are trying to avoid it. We live in a fallen world were bad things can happen to any one of us at any time.
Take the recent Las Vegas mass shooting that occurred on October 1 of this year. As we all know, a gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino fired thousands of rounds into an innocent crowd killing nearly 60 people who were attending a country music concert. Was there any way for the individuals killed to protect themselves? And what about the survivors? Why did they survive while others perished? Did God protect them? If yes, then why didn’t God protect those who died? Were those who died worse sinners than the others in the crowd? Lots of questions that are not easy to answer.
Believe it or not, Jesus was actually asked similar questions. We find this passage in chapter thirteen of the Gospel of Luke. Verses 1-5 read as follows:
Here we have both a man-made disaster and an accident. In the man-made disaster, the Roman ruler, Pilate, kills numerous people to instill fear in the rest of the population. Pilates’ victims seemed to be arbitrary selections. In short, they were in the wrong place, at the wrong time! Jesus also reminds his listeners about a recent accident where 18 people were killed when a tower fell. Again wrong place, wrong time! Jesus clearly mentions that those who died in these tragedies were no worse sinners than those who survived. They were just victims of the fallen, corrupt world that we live in due to the Fall (Genesis 3). Adam and Eve’s disobedience against God not only infected all of their descendants but it also affected creation itself. We learn in Romans 8 that because of Adam’s sin, “creation was subjected to frustration” (v. 20), and that “the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (v. 22). We no longer live in a perfect world which is why tragedy sometimes occurs no matter how careful we are.
What to do? Jesus basically answers with one word, “Repent!” He is reminding us that we need to make sure we are right with God. That we repent of our sinful nature and accept Jesus’ offer of salvation. In other words, we all need to make sure our eternal insurance is paid in full.
Heed Jesus’ warning to repent! We live in a dangerous, fallen world due to our sin nature. Thus we never know when tragedy may strike. Are you prepared? Are you right with God? Do not wait until it is too late.
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