I did something today that I usually don’t do. I posted a comment on a Yahoo! article. Lately, I’ve become fascinated with reading responses to various articles on world events – things that may have a religious connotation – either directly or indirectly.
For example, I read an article this morning on Yahoo! about the horrifying events unfolding in Indonesia concerning the perpetual volcanic eruptions that seem to be getting more violent, despite expectations to the contrary. The comment section had grown to nearly 4,000 comments before I decided to enter the fray. Of course, I didn’t read every single comment, but just enough to get a sampling of people’s opinions on the matter. I was appalled (but not the least bit surprised) at the callousness of some commenters who looked down on the Indonesians as an inferior people. The reasons for their inferiority varied: morons who built villages on the sides of an active volcano; Muslims who are facing divine judgment for their false religion; etc. etc. Some were quite harsh and merciless in their appraisals. The general consensus for all the negative reactions is this:
the Indonesians are just getting what they so richly deserve.
As I read through these comments, shaking my head at such self-righteous attitudes, a scripture popped into my head. it comes from the Gospel of Luke. In chapter 13 Jesus is thronged by thousands and in response he begins to instruct the people. At one point:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or 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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
(Luke 13:1-5 ESV)
These people wondered if the murder of the Galileans who were offering sacrifices and the untimely death of the eighteen at the collapse of the tower of Siloam were God’s just judgments on their personal sin and unrighteousness. Jesus says this is not the case. He teaches that such events serve as a warning signal to all that death can come suddenly and unexpectedly. In light of this disturbing reality people should take advantage of the moments given to them by the sheer grace of God and repent of their evil and be made right with their Creator before sudden death comes and they appear before God at the judgment.
Well, in my comment I quoted this text with a bit of a twist:
“Those Indonesians who were killed in the volcanic eruption: do you think they were worse offenders than all others who live on the earth? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will likewise perish. (Luke 13:4-5 Contextualized).
Now I posted this in answer to those self-righteous posters who thought the Indonesians deserved punishment for whatever reasons.
The response to my post was immediate. I refreshed the page two minutes later and was shocked to see that my post was hidden due to low ratings! 13 people gave my comment a thumbs down. Not only that but I received three hateful comments.
One person asked if I was really stupid or just acting like I was.
Another commenter tagged me as a religious extremist who lacks compassion for my fellow man and that God would judge me.
yet another person countered my Jesus quote with another concerning his mandate for us to love one another and then added, ‘God have mercy on you’.
All I did was quote Jesus (albeit altered to fit the context) and I’m painted as a hate mongering religious kook. Remarkable.
I would’ve thought that people would’ve understood I was communicating that no one has any cause to believe that they are any better off than the Indonesian residents when it comes to standing before Almighty God, the impartial judge.
Well, this shouldn’t catch me off guard, for scripture holds true:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15: 18-19)
“they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.” (Mark 4:12)
Had I ever questioned mankind’s depraved, God-hating, natural state of corruption before, I would have no basis on which to doubt it now.
As Jesus points out in the above passage, I’m no different then anyone else. Apart from God’s merciful grace I, too would be numbered among the self-righteous who scoff at his word and deny his sovereignty over the earth and all who dwell upon the face of it.
Soli Deo Gloria