Monday, October 15, 2007

Bridge Collapses in Minneapolis:

Thursday, August 2: Bridge Collapses in Minneapolis:
The families and loved ones of those who were killed or who are still missing in the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis yesterday are certainly in our hearts and prayers. It is said that there are at least four people dead, and twenty still unaccounted for. The bridge, giving access to I-35W is one of the most highly trafficked bridges in Minneapolis and was in its fortieth year of existence. Some are pointing to the fact that forty years ago, the same codes for building bridge support did not exist, which may account for the bridge’s buckling under all of the work vehicles, jackhammers and other equipment.

John Piper, who’s church is ironically less than a mile from where the bridge was, wrote an insightful blog explaining that his daily family devotions happened to be found in Luke 13:1-5:
“There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

One thing we can learn from this passage is that during a tragedy such as this, we should all be reminded of God’s mercy. Those who unfortunately lost their lives in this catastrophic event were no more sinful than any one of us, just as those Galileans who were killed by Pilate were no more sinful than anyone standing around Jesus 2,000 years ago. Instead of interrogating the memory of those who died, we should instead interrogate ourselves, and be reminded that unless we repent, we are all deserving of death, or, as Jesus warned those who pointed fingers at the ones crushed under the falling tower of Siloam, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Notice how the Lord takes focus off those who were killed, unfortunate as it was, His attention was focused on how fortunate anyone else is to be spared. Yet, if we do not repent over our godlessness and sin, our Lord assures us that our own fate will be no less unfortunate. All tragedy is a result of sin and should point us to the greater tragedy of Hell.

The Bible instructs us to be amazed every time we wake up to find that God has given us breathe for another day, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22). Be amazed at the mercy of God who bestowed upon us what seemed to be perennial breathe while we were still under His wrath. Marvel at the mercy of Him who “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

I will never forget reading the words of Jonathan Edwards, who, in his immortal sermon: Sinners in the Hands of an AngryGod paints for us a vivid picture of the mercy of God who alone can keep us from plummeting headlong into eternal death:

“Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf; and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock.”

But we must do more than stand amazed at God’s mercy after a tragedy like this one. Jesus is commanding all men everywhere to “repent” (Acts 17:30). So while we weep for the many unfortunate souls have not escaped tragedy, we are called upon in Luke 13:1-5 to weep for our own unfortunate souls if we have not cried out to God and been changed. Hell is the greatest tragedy of all. That is why in light of the bad news that millions will read in the headlines this morning, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news you could tell anyone. Thank God we have been warned. And thank God we have a way of escape.

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