My line about making sad eyes at each other has been quoted more than once. Here is a more complete context of the line:
“Don’t go to these links expecting to read soft words of sorrow and sympathy. We all mourn the victims and the wickedness that was done, but standing about making sad eyes at one another won’t do a bit of good.
Our nation has so much to repent for…”
I will admit that I was a little ambiguous – I meant to say (and thought I said) that just making sad eyes wouldn’t help.
In the past during times of tragedy, Americans (and Christians throughout history) have always responded by examining themselves to determine whether the tragedy is likely to be a sign of God’s displeasure.
In his commentary on Luke 13:1-5, Matthew Henry says,
“…He [Christ] cautioned his hearers not to blame great sufferers, as if they were therefore to be accounted great sinners. As no place or employment can secure from the stroke of death, we should consider the sudden removals of others as warnings to ourselves. On these accounts Christ founded a call to repentance. The same Jesus that bids us repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, bids us repent, for otherwise we shall perish.”
This reaction is not unique to Christians – it is in human nature to ask, “Why?” when such things happen.
Of course we can’t know the mind of God, but we can expect things to go badly when we are not living in obedience to Him, both as individuals (Pr. 10:24, 12:21, and as a nation (Pr. 11:11, Deut. 28:15-68). And if we have reason to believe that we are under judgment, we want to repent quickly, not wait for the grief to subside and new tragedy to fall before we broach the subject.
When is a better time to preach repentance to society at large: when the economy is strong and crime is decreasing, there’s a chicken in every pot and 2 cars in every garage? Or when we’ve been stricken by terrorists, epidemics, hurricanes and drug wars?
This does not mean that you step up to the grieving survivors of a fatal car wreck and tell them it’s all their fault. Few would be offended at being warned to drive more carefully after a horrific car wreck makes the headlines, but the grieving family would be very likely to take offense. There are different roles to be played, depending upon time, place, circumstances and other factors.
Jesus wept with Lazarus’s sister Mary. He showed compassion to those who were suffering. But when He was told in Luke 13 about the Galileans whose blood Herod mingled with their sacrifices, His immediate response was assurance that those who died were no worse than the rest and a call to national repentance.
I know and love Mr. Phillips as a Christian brother, and I think that the Vision Forum email newsletter on Virginia Tech was right on, but my point here is not to defend him. It is to rebut the claim that people should not address an important subject when it is immediately relevant because someone, somewhere, might misunderstand or find it hurtful.
Some topics are going to offend. So does the Gospel, as another reader commented.
When the Babylonians were carrying the Israelite captives away, do you think the people really wanted to hear Jeremiah and Isaiah blame it on their own idolatry? When God struck down thousands of Israelites in the wilderness, did Moses first come hug them and then much later, when their grief had softened, gently mention that they might want to consider how God felt about their complaining?
God brings disaster upon nations that disobey:
Isaiah 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.
Amos 3:6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?
Job 2:10 …Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?…
Our nation is in disobedience:
Abortion isn’t just in existence, but it is also nationally SANCTIONED. There were always Israelites who were going to be wicked (thus God’s commands in Deut 13 on how to deal with them) but it was when there was a NATIONAL idolatry as in the time of Ahab or Solomon that God moved against his whole people in judgement.
The public school system is corrupt at its very core. Yes, I know a lot of people will be offended to hear me say this but I strongly believe that the system cannot be redeemed. It is funded by theft and founded in the tenets of marxism and humanism. That’s a whole other discussion, but if you doubt it just let me encourage you to read up on the founders of the public school system. But quickly now, ask yourself: would you send your children to a muslim school? What if some of the teachers were professing Christians, but still taught the Q’ran and the tenets of Islam as required? Would you want your Christian children to be immersed in those teachings for most of their waking hours, 5 days/week from the age of 5 or less? Yes, your child might be a Christian when he graduates, but have you done your very best to disciple him, to raise him up in the fear and admonition of the Lord?
Maybe you disagree on this point. I know many Christians do. We’ll just have to agree to disagree, and I’ll reopen that cans of worms another day.
Many of our most popular books, movies and popular music lyrics are morally repulsive (Ps. 101:3).
Never before in the history of Western Civilization has homosexuality gained such widespread acceptance.
Yes, our nation is in sin. We need to repent.
Christian leaders and pastors have a duty to respond during times like this. This response can take many legitimate forms. A call to repentance is one.
Pro 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.