I’m getting tired of hearing some Christians make comments about God and hurricanes being used as ‘judgment’ or a ‘message.’
I try to avoid mentions on Facebook that focus on God and hurricanes this time of year because there’s a good chance they will only tick me off.
But I ran across an interesting post on Facebook from a pastor I’ve recently been introduced to. Chris Kratzer is a progressive Christian in Shelby, North Carolina.
His post yesterday resonated with me — probably because Charleston is still in the center of the projected path of Hurricane Irma, which just happens to be the strongest hurricane ever measured in that part of the ocean since record keeping began.
The post, in case it disappears on Facebook, read: “God uses hurricanes to send a message of judgement as much as He sends the LGBTQ community to conservative Evangelical churches to find Jesus–He doesn’t. Jesus is in hurricanes as much as He is in right wing Christianity–He isn’t. #classdismissed”
Back in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, we had to listen to pastors speaking “for God” in its aftermath. Some insisted that God sent Katrina to New Orleans because of all of the sin there. Of course, Katrina didn’t make landfall in New Orleans; the storm surge from Katrina caused more than 50 breaches in the city’s flood protection systems.
But if you believed God meant to strike New Orleans for its sin, you have to believe that God has spectacularly bad aim: while Katrina did incredible collateral damage in New Orleans, it did tremendous damage elsewhere.
“Oh, well there was sin there, too,” might just be their answer.
But that’s also false logic: since Jesus Christ is the only man to ever walk the earth without sin, there is sin everywhere. So why would God “punish” that area with a hurricane (while meaning to punish a different area) and not send a hurricane somewhere else?
You can’t believe God “targeted” New Orleans with a storm that missed the city, then fall back on there was sin where the landfall actually happened and have the majority of people take you seriously.
I’m told this same kind of foolishness is happening with regard to Irma. I’m happy to tell you I haven’t seen it myself, but I’m not surprised to hear that this tired old argument is still happening.
For all of the sin, there are exceptionally good people in the path of this storm: people who are more faithful than some of us, myself included, can ever imagine ourselves being, and they’re also getting hurt and having their lives turned upside down.
When it comes to God and hurricanes, I wish Christians would stop saying God “sent” such a storm. For one thing, none of us knows for sure — since we can’t read God’s mind — that such a statement could possibly be true. But more importantly, it’s communicating a message that goes contrary to Jesus Christ’s message of love, mercy and grace.
Yes, God can use anything — even a disaster — for good.
But that doesn’t have to mean that God caused a hurricane to strike.
When we lose sight of that, we Christians run the risk of alienating people who haven’t yet built a relationship with God.
That’s doing a great disservice to them and to God Himself.
We can certainly do better than that.