March 30, 2020

Last week, a pastor from Florida, claimed the coronavirus was God’s punishment of the Jewish people for not accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. Another pastor making headlines said God sent the coronavirus to “punish Chinese communists, the parents of transgender children and sexually immoral Americans.” And yet another pastor said the virus that will kill countless people across the globe is the responsibility of the LGBTQ community. This makes it official. We have now entered into the time of stupid.

This is the exact same thing that happened after 9/11, as pastors blamed specific groups for the terrorists that killed so many innocent people. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

Pastors who preach this sort of divisive hatred give pastors like me a bad name. The problem is those who are not Christian lump all of us into the same category. That means to the rest of the world, Christians are judgmental, xenophobic, hatemongers, who enjoy seeing others suffer for their sins. Sadly, this understanding of God’s punishment has been around as long as there have been people.

In the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John, the disciples saw a man who was blind from birth. The belief of the day was that any misfortune you experienced was the direct result of your sin. God was getting even with you. The greater your sin, the greater your punishment.

But when the disciples see this man who was blind from birth, they are very confused. How could a baby, in his mother’s womb, offend God so badly that God would withdraw the child’s sight? Or, if it was the parent’s sins that offended God, why did God punish the baby? None of it made sense.

When the disciples ask Jesus whose sin caused the man’s blindness, he says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed through him.” (John 9:3) In other words, Jesus was very clear that God did not cause this man’s blindness but God would bring good out of it. The same is true today.

God did not bring the coronavirus into the world to punish the wicked. If that was the case, I would have been dead a long time ago. I know that Paul said he was the worst sinner of all, (1 Timothy 1:15) but I am pretty sure I have given him a good run for the money. Why hasn’t God killed me for my innumerable sins? I certainly deserve it.

Don’t get me wrong. Sin causes a tremendous amount of pain and suffering. That is not God getting even with us, it is the result of our self-absorbed decisions. Those never turn out well.

But remember who our God is. The One who loves you more than life itself. The One who sacrificed his son so that you would life. The One who desperately wants to save you.

According to the Bible, David understood he was a first-class sinner. But knowing the grace of our wonderful God, David wrote: “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, very patient, and full of faithful love. God won’t always play the judge; he won’t be angry forever. He doesn’t deal with us according to our sin or repay us according to our wrongdoing, because as high as heaven is above the earth, that’s how large God’s faithful love is for those who honor him. As far as east is from west—that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.” (Psalm 103:8-12 CEB)

The message we must share with a suffering, confused world is that God did not cause the coronavirus in order to punish sinners. God loves us too much for something like that. We must let others know.

Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, in this time of grief, confusion, and pain, I humbly ask that you use me to shine your light of love and grace into the darkness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Those pastors that are judging others give all of us a bad name. This is not God’s punishment.

Also, just for the record, there is one exception to the rule. If you fall asleep while listening to my sermon, God will punish you. But that’s the only exception.

I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.
Tom Robbins

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