It seems that anytime there are terrible disasters in the world, someone attributes them to God. It is probably no help that our insurance companies have always referred to natural disasters as “acts of God.”
“God Himself could’t sink the Titanic,” is perhaps one of the most infamous historical comments regarding the famous ship. It is unclear whether this comment was ever really spoken by an employee of the White Star Line or if its utterance is just legend.
The fact is, though, that many people get a kind of grim satisfaction when reciting the remarks of the Titanic’s unsinkability. The message we like to convey seems to be, “Don’t challenge God or He will kill you.”
It seems that every disaster in recent history, whether it be the AIDS pandemic, the Indian Ocean tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti, or the tornadoes in the Midwest, gives us a prominent Evangelical leader who connects the horrendous events to the judgement of God. (Then he usually apologizes a few days later for his insensitivity.)
It is strange to me that so may of us wish to portray God as loving and merciful, yet also full of violence. We preach that the wrath of God was satisfied by Jesus’ death, but then we embrace the God of wrath when other people suffer. We can’t have it both ways though. Either God’s judgement was satisfied by Jesus or it was not.
I believe that Jesus is the fullest revelation of the character and passion of God that exists. When we look at the way Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels, we see God. Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
Jesus taught His followers to “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies.” Jesus was the ultimate example of choosing sacrifice rather than violence. He showed us that victory is won through live-giving sacrifice, not through vengeful domination.
When we believe that God sunk the Titanic just to prove a point, we make God out to be petty and jealous. When we believe that God brings disasters as judgement for sin, then we are claiming that God abandoned the way of humble sacrifice in exchange for violence.
Jesus will not abandon the cross in favor of the sword.