It is not popular to talk about sin as the cause of any plague, famine, or war. Nevertheless, in biblical times, there were many occasions where sin was recognised as the cause. Indeed, the people had sinned, creation had been corrupted, and mankind had to live with the consequences of their actions. What the people suffered was generally the result of their own sins. But even so, every now and again, God’s vengeance was identified as the cause, but only as a means to call his people to return to him.

But whatever the cause—man’s sin or God’s vengeance—it was also recognised that only God could sort out the mess, a mess that the people had created for themselves.

Now, in biblical terms, it is all plain and simple. Unfortunately, these days, we seem to have grown out of the idea of mans’ sins—or even of God’s vengeance. Indeed, there is this thinking, today, that whatever mistakes mankind makes, mankind can also fix. And if there is a God, which many doubt, then he or she isn’t relevant to today’s living.

Now why anyone should want to think that way is beyond me. And what people expect to happen when they die—or when the world should come to an end—is a mystery to me as well. And particularly so, when Jesus is quoted as saying that there is only one way to God, and that is through faith in him.

As a consequence, at a time of a crisis, it seems that all efforts are poured into finding a man-made solution, rather than dealing with why the crisis occurred in the first place. And to me, that is very sad. Because it says that we really have no time for God at all.

So at such times, the church can be a lonely voice. Indeed, it can sometimes be heard calling people to prayer, asking people to talk to God to deal with the particular situation. And in one sense that is good. But in another sense, that call reflects the fact that the church has lost its direction too. Because from a biblical point of view, the call to prayer should, perhaps, not be part of the first stage of the spiritual solution at all. Indeed, the prophet Joel, who himself faced plague after plague after plague, recognised that before there should be a call to prayer, the people first needed to repent of their sins and commit themselves to a relationship with God. In other words, for Joel, praying without first engaging in a commitment to God, was deemed to be of little value.

In Joel’s time the people got it wrong, their civic leaders got it wrong, and their religious leaders had got it wrong. And that is exactly the situation that we find ourselves in today.

In the context of any crisis, then, someone needs to stand up and call the people to repent and turn to God. But not turn to any god but turn to the God of creation and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only then can we deal properly with the crisis and avoid the next crisis that otherwise will eventually follow.

The problem is, though, who is prepared to stand up and make such a call? Particularly in a world where our churches are so entwined with society and government, that it is hardly recognisable as God’s church at all.

Posted: 6th April 2020
© 2020, Brian A Curtis