A great many thoughts have been running through my mind in the wake of the devastation from hurricane Harvey. Prayers for the families involved, either in the flooded areas, evacuated from them, or worried about ones still there. I have never had to leave my home in the face of a storm, although I did have a flood cutoff my way off of a mountain when we lived in Montana. Also, we stood and watched the wildfires approaching our house, built with our own hands, trying to decide if we should stay or go, then God sent a wind that reversed the fires path and our home was spared.
It is impossible to look at the pictures coming out of Texas and the gulf region without feeling a deep tug of compassion for those affected. The countless stories of selfless heroism in the midst of the destruction are inspiring, and in many ways serve to lift up our hopes for our society that has so recently been torn apart in strife. Images of people caring for others in need with no heed to any of the so-called differences that divide us so easily are so refreshing in the wake of all the marches, demonstrations, and counter-demonstrations that have been ripping into the underbelly of our culture in recent months.
Yet in the midst of all this, I have had some thoughts ringing like dissonant notes in a symphony. Across our whole nation we see an outpouring of love and compassion for the victims of this physical flood, as we should. However, what about compassion, especially from people that claim the name of Jesus Christ, for people being swept away in some of the spiritual floods that are ravaging our nation. Ask the parent or spouse watching addiction (drug or alcohol) sweep through and wash away their child, spouse. If they could bring themselves to talk about it, I am sure you would hear language that closely mimics the flood victims describing seeing the ruins of their flood damaged home.
How about a flood of violence, so called “domestic” or otherwise? Anyone who has been a victim of violence can understand the feelings of helplessness as an evil comes in and destroys parts of their life.
Northwest of all the flooding, we find the states of Montana (my home for a few years), Idaho, Oregon, California and others being consumed in wildfires. More brave men and women putting themselves in harms way, only now they are battling flames instead of floods.
If you look around closely though, you can see spiritual fires consuming lives around us everyday. These fires have different names though, names like hatred, arrogance, indifference. The spiritual floods and fires are not always as easy to see as the physical ones, but make no mistake – they just as damaging, sometimes more so.
Some of the costs of the physical and spiritual versions of the fires and floods are similar: lost homes, jobs, family members, and more. However, what should stir the heart of the Christian just as deeply as the pictures of the flooding or the fires, is the thought of people swept up in spiritual destruction and dying without ever becoming a follower of Jesus. The loss of physical things is terrible, and we should do what we can to help those in need. Jesus, in fact, tells His followers to do no less. However, the physical loss pales in comparison to a soul dying and forever languishing in hell.
In the final analysis of life, there are only two groups of people. Sinners who have never repented and will spend all of eternity separated from every good thing, they will in fact spend eternity under God’s wrath against their sin. The other group of people are sinners just as much as the first group. They have not performed some service to make them worthy, their good works did not outweigh their bad deeds, there is nothing in and of themselves that should keep them from the same punishment as the first group. The only difference in this group, is that they have repented from their sins, and placed their trust in the shed blood of Jesus to save them. Based on this alone, they will be swept into heaven to spend eternity with the Savior who suffered, bled, and died to purchase their redemption.
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
John 6:40 “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Mathew 22:36-40 (a Pharisee posing a question to Jesus) “’Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and Prophets.’”
If you are a Christian, I would challenge you to look around this week at the people you interact with or drive by as you go about your daily life and ask God to let you see the spiritual needs in their life. Sometimes this can start with physical needs and God uses these things to open doors for us to share the Gospel. Watch for the evidence of the floods or fires that might be raging against the life of the person in front of you.
If you are not a Christian, I would encourage you to get a Bible in your hands, and start reading about Jesus. The book of John is a great starting place, but read anywhere that catches your eye, the whole Bible is God’s message to the world. The only question that matters in the eternal perspective is one that Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16. “Who do you say that I am?” I ask you that question now, “Who do you say that Jesus is?” Are you prepared to trust Him with your life?