Posts tagged ‘Blame’

Disaster in Beirut

When I first saw the video footage out of Beirut, I, like so many, was horrified. As so many others have noted, what began as a raging fire turned into what looked like an atomic bomb explosion in the heart of Beirut’s harbor – complete with the mushroom cloud that literally knocked people down for miles around.

But it was not an atomic bomb. It was not an attack by some nefarious force or enemy nation. The culprit here was negligence. It is now being reported that at the site of the explosion, there were thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored alongside a cache of fireworks. How they got there is a case study in incompetence. The Guardian interviewed a former port worker, Yusuf Shehadi, who explained that the Lebanese military had demanded that the ammonium nitrate be housed there. Mr. Shehadi explained:

We complained a lot about this over the years. Every week, the customs people came and complained and so did the state security officers. The army kept telling them they had no other place to put this. Everyone wanted to be the boss, and no one wanted to make a real decision … The port workers did not put the chemicals there in the first place. That outrage rests with the government.

The fireworks stored there date back all the way to 2010, after customs confiscated them and needed a place to put them. Apparently, a decade was not long enough for customs to find a more suitable storage spot for the fireworks. In other words, this was a disaster waiting to happen. Of course, now that the disaster has happened, there is plenty of finger pointing, but little to no responsibility taking.

After history’s first disaster – humanity’s fall into sin – just like with Beirut, there was plenty of finger pointing, but little to no responsibility taking. When God discovers that Adam and Eve have eaten from the tree He had forbidden to them, both of them are quick to try to pass the buck:

The man said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13)

Sadly, this finger pointing did not solve anything. It only led to death – just like in Beirut. In that town, the latest death toll stands at 154 with more than 5,000 people injured.

When Jesus is on trial before Pontius Pilate, there is plenty of finger pointing going on. “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king,” some say as they point at Jesus (Luke 23:2). “He stirs up the people all over Judea by His teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here,” others accuse (Luke 23:5). And just like in the Garden and just like at Beirut, this finger pointing leads to death – Jesus’ death. But this death is different.

The prophet Isaiah says of Jesus’ crucifixion:

Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering. (Isaiah 53:4)

Rather than taking the fingers of His enemies and pointing them right back at them in their sin, Jesus willingly took up their finger pointing and he took up responsibility for the sinfulness and brokenness of the world.

It is unlikely someone will actually step up to take responsibility for this tragedy. In reality, no one person can. There are no doubt dozens if not hundreds of people who were complicit in this dangerous storage setup. And besides, no amount of human finger pointing or human responsibility taking will bring back those who have lost their lives in Beirut’s tragic explosion. There is only One who can take responsibility in a way that will actually solve this tragedy – in a way that will actually bring those who have lost their lives back in a resurrection. And His name is Jesus.

He takes responsibility for what we cannot.

August 10, 2020 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

ABC Extra – How Could God Allow the Fall?

This weekend, we continued our series in worship and ABC titled, “Five Family Fiascos!  Is There Hope For Us?”  This weekend’s topic was, “When You’re Caught in Blame.”  Blame, as we learned this weekend, is as old as the Fall itself.  God gives to Adam and Eve a single command: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).  But Adam and Eve transgress this commandment.  And when they do, rather than confessing their blame before God, they try to “pass the buck” of their sin:

The man said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13)

Adam and Eve, though they ‘fess up to their sin, refuse to take responsibility for their sin.  They are all too ready to blame someone else for their failing.  Adam blames Eve.  Eve blames the snake.  It’s a tragic – if not even a somewhat comical – scene.

One of the perennial questions I receive concerning the story of the Fall is, “If God knew that Adam and Eve would break His command and bring sin and pain and death and despair into this world, then why would God create them – and, by extension, us – in the first place?  Why couldn’t God just not have created anything and saved us all a lot of heartache?”  Though I would certainly not presume to try to answer every facet of this question, for we are not called to “fathom the mysteries of God and probe the limits of the Almighty” (Job 11:7), there is an answer, I believe, that at least partially and appropriately answers this familiar inquiry.  Perhaps an analogy will help us understand God’s willingness to allow us – and Himself – to endure the Fall of Genesis 3.

Before a husband and wife have children, they are no doubt vaguely aware that raising a child can be a burden at times – both for them and for the child!  There will be problems which call for a heavy disciplinarian hand.  There will be times at which a child feels as though his parents do not understand him.  And yet, countless couples have chosen to become parents regardless of the future problems they know they will encounter!  Why?  Because parents have a strange, truly indescribable way of loving their children before they’re even conceived.  The prospect of having a son or daughter excites them.  And so they are willing to take on the pain of the future they know they will soon have to endure for the child they love.

So it is with our heavenly Father.  According to His omniscience, God knew all about the Fall and all the pain it would bring into our world long before the Fall ever happened.  And yet He created us anyway.  Why?  Because He loved us even before He created us and so was willing to endure the pain and suffering He knew we would cause.  As the apostle Paul writes:  “God chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:4-5).  God loved us before He made us, Paul says.  Indeed, God’s love for us was so deep that He even made arrangements for our salvation from creation.  This is reflected in Revelation, where we read of “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).  According to eternity, God was planning to send Jesus to be slain to forgive our sins from the very beginning of the world.  Thus is the depth of the love of our God.

The Fall of Adam and Eve was truly the greatest fiasco this world has ever known.  For from this Fall springs every subsequent fall into sin and fiasco from sin.  And living under the effects of the Fall is not always fun.  And yet, God’s love for us is stronger than the Fall.  And so, when you fall, rather than trying to pass the blame on to others for your sin, pass the blame on to the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.  For He willingly takes on your blame and takes away your sin.

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April 12, 2010 at 4:45 am 2 comments

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