Now that my book is actually published, I’ve been thinking less about making it perfect (it never will be), and more about the reasons I wrote it in the first place. I have several.
First and foremost is that I saw a need in the Church: people have a tendency to think that calamity equals punishment. While that is true, it is only loosely and indirectly true: Calamities wouldn’t happen if nobody ever sinned.
But, that’s not the way people think. People tend to think that we deserve what we get. Whether for themselves or for others, people wonder if the person didn’t deserve their fate.
The Bible’s book of Job loudly screams that that’s simply not the case. Yes, God does punish on this planet, but only occasionally, and always telling the victim (or victims or even nations) in advance.
There’s an even worse problem on the flip side of this coin: people assume that prosperity comes to those who deserve it. This problem is right at home in America, where the “pull yourselves up by the bootstraps” mentality is our native tongue.
My book doesn’t specifically target that problem, but it seems to me it is an even bigger problem than the “you get what you deserve” attitude. Revelation 3:17-18 were penned to the Laodiceans, but it applies here as well: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” (NASB)
We tend to think that if we’re doing well, it must be because we’re being good in God’s eyes.
Both sides of this coin need eradicating. Unless God speaks, we can’t hold either side of this theology safely. God will not be pleased.