March 23, 2020
As we face this global pandemic and are forced into isolation, I often hear people claim that what we are experiencing is God’s will, or something God could stop if he felt like it, but is allowing to teach us a lesson or get our attention.
This perspective (this theology) is dangerous and problematic. It presents us with a god who is willing to allow an entire generation of Italians to die from a virus–or worse, make it happen. What lesson does God have to teach us that requires a global pandemic? Why would the same God who sacrificed himself for all of humanity be the mastermind behind a virus that threatens the lives of all humans alive today?
This is not the Yahweh I see in scripture and it certainly is not the God who’s Good News I would stake my life and eternity on.
In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a story about a farmer who planted a crop of wheat. His enemies came at night and planted weeds in his fields. When his workers asked what they should do, he told them to leave the fields alone. He would allow the wheat and weeds to grow together and separate them at the harvest.
This is one of the ways Jesus described the Kingdom of Heaven–God’s kingdom that he claimed had arrived on earth with him. We worship the God who chose from the beginning to let the wheat and weeds grow together in this broken world. Why? Because to uproot the weeds would be to destroy the wheat as well. The choices we have made since the Garden to worship anything that is not God is sin–WEEDS. Every one of us, despite our sin are God’s precious children–WHEAT.
You and I are the product of generations of beautiful and broken people making their way through this world that groans for Jesus’ return. Jesus made it possible for us to know the Father, to grow and even thrive in this broken world. It is God’s greatest act of love to endure the often tragic course of history so that you and I can live to choose eternal relationship with him.
The only thing that justifies the way he has limited himself in this way is sending his Son to sacrifice himself and conquer the sin and death–weeds–that have entangled themselves in each of our lives. John said, “God loved the world so much he sent his only son to die so anyone who believes in him will not die, but have eternal life”.
It is not God’s will that COVID 19 has wreaked havoc on our world. It breaks his heart along with ours. So what is God’s will? His will is to squeeze good out of the bad that will not be fully eradicated until Jesus returns. The work of his Kingdom is evident in doctors and nurses who are risking their lives to care for the sick and dying. We catch a glimpse of Jesus in every person who finds creative ways to stay connected with others and get them what they need to survive the isolation and uncertainty. God’s will is that we share toilet paper and encouraging memes on social media!
Let us be the wheat in a world of weeds. Let Christ’s Church be agents of comfort, hope and healing when life seems hopeless and overwhelming. This is God’s will. This is how he wrings every drop of good out of tragedy–until the harvest. Until that day when the wheat and weeds are separated and the precious broken ones who walk with him in his love are set free from sin and death once and for all. Good news indeed!