Friday, August 03, 2007

Weeping with those who weep

Great post by John Piper on the tragedy in Minneapolis.

Here's just a single paragraph from it.

The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.


HT: Challies.

Update: Phil @ Team Pyro has an outstanding post on God's Divine Providence in Disaster, which apparently has been labeled as "too God-centered" in some parts of the blogosphere. Yeah, right. That ranks right up there with preaching that's too Bible-centered, and or a Gospel that's too Christ-centered.

God is the God of big things, and little things, too.

2 comments:

Tom said...

I also agree with Piper's lament in regard to the bridge collapse. We should all be amazed that a similar fate hasn't happened to ourselves and should consider the mercy that has been shown us by sparing us from truly awful things that we rightly deserve.

As far as the 'too God-centered' debate goes, I think more questions need to be asked to get to the root of their complaint.

I could be wrong, but when I see the words 'are you being too God-centered' in regard to a tragedy, I think the root question may be closer to: "Do you have personal compassion for those who lost their lives or loved ones?" and "How do you reconcile the sovereignty of God with your personal, (God-given I might add) responsibility to your fellow man to 'weep when he weeps' and 'mourn when he mourns'?"

Now admittedly, some who ask this question do not believe in the sovereignty of God. Others may not be sure either way. And some who ask, may just be trying to see if our walk matches our talk…i.e. “Does your head knowledge attach somewhere in your heart?”

I recently read a ‘Religion vs. the Gospel’ chart that Pastor Tim Keller put together, and one of the points in it made me think of the 'controversies' and 'rabble-rousings' that go on in the blogosphere.

"Religion:
My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how
hard I work. Or how moral I am, and so I must look
down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral. I disdain
and feel superior to ‘the other.’

Vs.

Gospel:
My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died
for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me. I
am saved by sheer grace. So I can’t look down on those who
believe or practice something different from me. Only by
grace I am what I am. I’ve no inner need to win arguments."

I think that when we begin to grasp that we are what we are by grace alone we’ll feel less need to win arguments (for argument's sake) and more need to win brothers (for Christ's sake). While it may be true at times that “we’re right” and “they’re wrong” we’ll never bring them around to the truth by being indifferent to their concerns.

If our goal is to bring them to a more fulfilling relationship with Christ, then we must pray for them and seek ways to engage their minds and hearts by showing the truth in love. It is hard not to love people you are praying for.

Tom said...

:UPDATE:

Talk about God's Providential timing! Just today I found perhaps the most superb contemporary example I have ever seen concerning 2 earnest brothers in Christ having a fundamental disagreement about a key issue, each stating his own "God-Centered" and Bible believing conviction, and yet not ever devolving into hysteria.

Link:
John Piper to Wayne Grudem:
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2301_Response_to_Grudem_on_Baptism_and_Church_Membership/
Wayne Grudem to John Piper:
http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/758_wayne_grudems_response_to_piper/

This is fantastic stuff, and I appreciate their transparency and willingness to share this with a broad audience.