Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Unrighteous

When storms come, we often end up turning in on ourselves when we try to figure out what's caused the raging seas. Verses like the one we looked at yesterday from Job are not entirely helpful, but neither is this one:

He sends His rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Basically, God sends His storms wherever He pleases, and there's not a category in our finite human minds to understand why.

Uh, thanks?

That's what this statement is. More than a statement about God, who we already know loves His entire creation, even the broken parts of it, this is a statement about us. It's a statement about who we are and how we try to understand our world. 

In times of storm, righteous and unrighteous are our words. They're our attempts to draw lines, to create groups. It's our desire to want to say this man deserves it and so this is where the lightning strikes, but God says those categories don't work. Not because this man deserves it and this other man doesn't, but because God's not looking at the same things we're looking at.

God's never looking at the same things we're looking at. 

Or perhaps it's better to say that we're not looking at the same things God's looking at. We're always drawing distinctions, always drawing lines. But where we're drawing lines, God's drawing circles. He's bringing everything together, pulling us into tighter community. When we read the story of the Pharisee and the sinner, praying in the Temple, we say that the prayer of the Pharisee is clearly arrogant, that it's self-serving, that it's self-centered, and we rejoice at the humility of the tax collector, who cries out from his broken places and submits Himself to God. We can almost see the storm swelling over the Pharisee. How dare he pray like that?

But God...God looks at the Pharisee and the tax collector and He sees two men praying. No, it doesn't seem to us that the Pharisee is getting it right. Yes, we could probably clearly draw the line between a "bad" prayer and a better prayer. But we keep forgetting they're still both prayers. Both men are praying. And to God, this is the thing. Two broken men praying in two broken ways, but both talking to God. 

Who's to say who is unrighteous? 

Which brings us back to the problem at hand - the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. In other words, there's no way for us to determine what makes the storms rage. There's no way we can know, by our human categories, what causes the rain to fall on one man over another. It's simply not that easy. 

And that's not comforting when the skies turn black. When we want to know what we did to deserve this, when we're trying to figure out what it is God intends for these winds. When even the umbrella turns inside out and there's nothing left to shield us from the rain. 

The righteous, the unrighteous...we just can't know why God sends His storms. It's frustrating, right? Of course it is. Nobody ever said these things would be easy.

But we do have hope. Or rather, a promise. We can't go so far as to say that God sends storms for good, as we saw yesterday, because that smacks at everything we know about God. It just doesn't feel good. But we do know that God redeems the storms for good, that He redeems all things for good. (Romans 8:28 - God is busy, right now, working all things together for good.) There is good, even in the dark. Even in the wind. Even in the rain.

We know this even when we don't think we know this.

More on that tomorrow. 

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