Will these tragedies never end?

No, awful tragedies on our planet will not end until God has pronounced judgment on every god that holds us in its grip and we are free at last. It’s nothing new, he’s done it before, when he freed Israel from Egypt. Ten tragic plagues later, the grip Egypt held over Israel was broken, but the purpose of the plagues wasn’t to punish the Egyptians, it was “to bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt,” Exodus 12:12. It was their gods he was aiming at, not the people.

There may be some element of punishment on us in the tragedies that occur, to wake us up to our helplessness in ruling this planet without his guidance, but God’s main purpose in the awful things happening is to “destroy all¬†dominion, authority and power” on this planet and “put all his enemies under his feet,” 1 Corinthians 15:24-25.

Are we the enemies he’s talking about? No. We’ve acted like his enemies and been stupidly arrogant in our resistance to him, but it’s never been his plan to destroy us. He sent Jesus to rescue us, not punish us. And is it our “dominion, authority and power” he’s destroying? No, because he’s the one who puts people in power and gives them authority (Romans 13:1-2). Our leaders may do a horrible job of ruling, but they’re not God’s enemies.

God’s enemies are those crafty hidden powers that conceal the truth about him. He made that clear in the book of Genesis, when he actually created a crafty creature to reveal what these hidden powers are up to. He warned Israel too, before they entered Canaan, about the gods they would encounter that would endlessly try to draw the Israelites away from him. It’s these hidden powers that deceive us that are God’s enemies.

So how do all these tragedies going on in our world right now release us from their grip? Well, every tragedy that happens is revealing a god we’ve been taken in by. When a tragic shooting occurs it shatters the god that makes us think we’re all knowing. Everyone asks, “Why?” Why would someone do such a horrible thing? And no one can figure it out. It’s beyond us. And when floods, fires and hurricanes take a terrible toll on human lives they shatter the gods that make us think we’re in control. We’ve been made to think we’re indestructible, so who needs God, but in fact we are very fragile.

Tragedies, therefore, are shattering the gods that make us think we are secure in our own strength and ability. And God will keep shattering these gods until we are free of them all at last.

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Can we improve our chances on Judgment Day?

I’ve been learning about the tricks women play to shave off those crucial ounces for weighing-in at Weight Watchers – like don’t eat breakfast that morning, wear the lightest weight clothes you’ve got, no underwear, and use the scales at Weight Watchers that register the lowest weight.

It reminded me of the tricks people play when it comes to Fate Watchers. Fate Watchers is for all those who are worried about weighing in on Judgement Day, who fear that day because, they believe, that’s the moment their fate is decided forever – and what if they’ve fallen short of expectations? In other words, Fate Watchers is just like Weight Watchers: there’s a price to pay if you’re overweight, and especially if you’re heavy on sin. So Fate Watchers comes up with religions that supply people with all kinds of clever tricks to shave off the bad bits in their lives to improve their chances on Judgment Day.

The tricks are a waste of time, of course, because the Judge knows all, but we give it a try anyway, like the fellow in Matthew 7:22 who says, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Nice try, but the Lord’s having none of it. “I never knew you,” he replies. “Away from me, you evildoers.”

But surely miracles are good for a few points on the Fate scales, aren’t they? No, they’re not. But if miracles aren’t good enough, what about all the other tricks that religions tell us will improve our chances on Judgement Day, like obeying the ten commandments, praying five times a day, doing good deeds, or creating mega churches? But if casting out demons doesn’t cut the mustard with Jesus Christ, then what does casting out bad habits by self-discipline and willpower do for us? Isn’t there anything we do that counts at weigh-in time?

Yes, there is: faith, Colossians 1:23. But faith in what, though? Faith that we are “holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” because we’ve been reconciled to God “by Christ’s physical body through death,” verse 22. At weigh-in time we come only with the cross, because God accepts our trust in that. That’s how our “alienation from God” and “being his enemies because of our evil behaviour,”¬†verse 21, are dealt with. There’s nothing else needed.

At Fate Watchers, the sign over the door says, “No Tricks Needed,” because there’s no need to resort to all those tricks religions come up with to scrape us under the wire on Judgement Day. Imagine if weighing-in at Weight Watchers was so easy.