JI was reading an article on the internet recounting an accident that just happened to a Nigerian evangelical church, the roof of which collapsed on its parishioners. A provisional toll shows at least 160 dead. Along with my compassion for the victims and their loved ones, I found it interesting to read some reactions from readers, which made the connection between God, Christians, and this accident. I would like to raise 4 small points that this story inspires me.
1st clarification: being a Christian does not prevent accidents from happening.
One thing is certain: in the end, we will all die, believers or not. And among the believers, some will die accidentally, of long illness, of short illness, of violent death, or quietly in their bed. And unbelievers, well, too, will die in all these kinds of circumstances. The accident can strike anyone, it goes without saying, but it gets even better by saying it.
Yes, God can act to keep a roof from collapsing. He can also act so that the roof collapses when the church is empty. Christians believe miracles exist - and reality shows they are right to believe it. But we should not confuse the miracle of divine intervention with a form of invincibility that would be part of the “package” of the Christian faith. Of course, God can decide to act to prevent the tragedy. But he can also decide not to act. It doesn't take anything away from what he is.
2th clarification: if an accident affects Christians, this does not presume the existence of God.
Someone was saying in the comments to this article that if God existed, he would not have allowed this accident to happen. We hear the same things for diseases or wars. If God existed, he would not allow… I am the grandson of 4 survivors of a genocide: my late grandparents could have told you that God was also there during the genocide. As a Christian, I believe that originally God gave mankind a manual, which was then only represented by Adam and Eve, and mankind did not want it. This is called "the fall". Since that day, we have been dealing with various influences, which are not necessarily what God would like. There is what God wants, and there is what He allows. The existence of wars or accidents is not incompatible with the existence of a loving God.
3th Clarification: when an accident affects non-Christians, it does not mean that God wants to “punish” those who do not believe in him.
God is a God of love, who loves everyone unconditionally. Everyone has to die, and what God wants is for us to die with him. But God does not kill people to spend their eternity away from him, since his will is to spend eternity with us. In Christian belief, he invites everyone to make the decision during their lifetime about what will happen after death.
4th Clarification: If a Christian survives an accident, it does not mean that he would have died if he had not been a Christian.
You have heard of this plane crash in Colombia, which was carrying a Brazilian football team. Actually one of the few survivors was reading his Bible at the time of the crash. Does this make reading his Bible a formula for protection? Would he have died if he had been reading a novel? Would he have died if he hadn't been a Christian? Was another passenger who died also reading his Bible? We don't know. What we do know is that this guy was a Christian, that he was reading the Bible then, and that he survived. And next to him, another guy, who was not a Christian, also survived. And that maybe a third guy, who was a Christian, was killed in the crash. That's all we can say about it.
Being a Christian will influence the way of living as long as one is alive, with all the joys and also the difficulties that result from it. It will bring us to be in relationship with God, and to benefit from all the benefits that this can bring. It will condition our way of living our eternity. But on earth, that is not a formula that makes us invincible supermen. Because, believers or not, we all share the same condition: we are only human beings, limited and mortal.
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