In John 9:1-3, Jesus notices a man that was blind from birth and his disciples ask him, “Rabbi (Jesus), who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him”. At times, when significant world events happen, there are factions of religious people that will argue the connection between this disaster and God’s judgment on “those people”. The claim is often it is retribution for their sins or life style.
There are many examples of this in history. A recent one occurred in my city, Minneapolis, in 2009. During the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) national convention, they were to vote on their stance on permitting practicing homosexuals to serve in ministry. Closely synced with the timing of the vote was a tornado, making its way into the city and knocking the cross off the top of the church where the meeting was held. Several prominent pastors and others were quick to point out how God was using this as his show of displeasure. The vote passed and the ELCA became a divided church thereafter.
Could this have been God moving in a physical way to warn the ELCA? Does God operate in an active way in the world? One only need look at regions in which residents’ faith is clung to and relied upon for their very existence. Think China, India or Russia. A read of the book The Insanity of God provides clear evidence of this.
Is God our judge and does he judge us? Romans 2:2 says, “God judges all who do such things, and we know his judgment is right”. So, therefore, God judges and is active in this world. Is it possible that he brings his judgement onto people in the present day? This would indict that he does.
I suggest, however, the problem comes when we attempt to super impose God’s judgment on people; when we think we have God’s wisdom and understand God’s heart and intent. We may suppose we know and can predict how and when he will act. If we’re really honest about this, we really may not know or understand how he operates.
We must take care that this is not self-righteous and arrogant on our part, while also practicing wise discernment and interpretation of God’s word – quite a difficult to say the least. Leave the judging to God. After all if he were to reign down his wrath on a group of sinners, would I not deserve to be among them?