What are the bloody odds?
For the second time this year, our church office has gotten struck by lightening frying much of the computer equipment and our laser printer.
Is God sending us a message? Are we not doing something right as a church?
It's easy to fall into such questioning. When something goes wrong or we face a tragedy of some sort, it is natural to begin asking the "why" questions. And it is also natural to begin looking at the things one does as the reason why such things happen.
Sometimes, there is a correlation. For instance, if you smoke three packs a day for many years and you get lung cancer, don't be surprised. If you drive while intoxicated and get into an accident, well... If you try to discipline your children while driving and run into the ditch... There are indeed many things that happen that are our responsibility caused by our behaviors.
However, there are many things that happen just because they happen. There is no rhyme or reason for it. It's tempting to blame ourselves or blame God. It's tempting to think we have done something wrong...broken God's commandment or something.
Yet, the good news is God no longer strikes us with punishment when we are doing things wrong. Yep. You heard me right. God doesn't do it. We reap the consequences of our own actions, but God doesn't discipline us anymore. Need proof?
It's about God's grace. St. Paul makes it abundantly clear in the book of Galatians:
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
Did you catch that part about the law not being our disciplinarian anymore? Did you catch how God now relates to us?
God treats us as adult children. He knows we're going to do things that He doesn't want us to do, but He gives us that freedom. He gives us the ability to screw our own lives up. He's no longer going to try and correct us at every turn and treat us like a two year old. He wants a more mature relationship.
That's hard to do. Face it. We like telling others what to do and what we believe should be right. We like believing we have the answers. We don't really want to give others freedom. We like hanging around people who are just like us and agree with most of what we have to say. We'll cut off very quickly from those who don't tell us what we want to hear. It's human nature, but it's not God's nature.
God doesn't punish. God doesn't cut off. God loves. He doesn't approve of everything we do, but He certainly isn't going to stop caring for us.
That's why I don't believe He caused the lightening to hit our church. Even if it's struck twice.