We’re Sorry God
By Dr. Brad Cole
Tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes have often been mislabeled as “Acts of God.” This week, however, marked another low point in the long history of blaming God for tragedy when Oklahoma republican Cole (no relation) had this to say:
“We probably should have forced BP to mobilize more in the way of vessels. There’s still a lot that can be done. But again, acts of God are acts of God. And you know, FEMA is not, you know, cannot cope with everything.”
As more reports come in suggesting that human negligence and greed were largely responsible for this spill, how is it possible in any way to implicate God in this catastrophe?
Some local churches, such as the Wesleyan Church, are praying for God to intervene: “Men have tried for weeks to stop the flow of oil and to date, all has failed. We need to call on God to stop the flow now. Our God stopped the flow of water for Israel to cross the Red Sea and He can cease the flow from this ruptured well.” While there is no question that prayer is always important, should God immediately step in and patch up all of the consequences that are the result of human selfishness?
This devastating gulf spill is symptomatic of the entire problem that planet earth has been in from the very beginning: we rebel, bad things happen, we then imply that the “bad things” are somehow God’s fault or that God should undo the consequences of our actions. When Adam and Eve chose to reject their Creater they immediately began blaming each other and even implied that God was ultimately at fault. “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit…” (Genesis 3:12). Adam’s words imply, “Why did you make her in the first place, God? It’s really your fault.” Eve then indirectly blamed God for making the serpent, “The snake tricked me into eating it…” (Genesis 3:13).
Unfortunately, by exploiting the earth and each other for the sake of self-preservation and to satisfy our lust for power and control, we have created conditions on this planet that have terrible consequences, but yet we still ask, “How could you allow this God?” “You have the power God, why don’t you use it?” Or even worse, according to Tom Cole, “You did it, God! An act of God!”
It’s time for the human race to collectively take responsibility for the mess on planet earth and to recognize that we, more often than not, reflect the principles of God’s enemy than those of Christ. None of us are without blame and we would do well to follow the example of Daniel’s humble prayer where he identified and shared in the guilt of his people rather than pointing fingers at those who were more guilty than he:
“I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: ‘Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land. Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, LORD, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the LORD our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you…Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us. Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (Daniel 9:4-19)
Now that’s a prayer to model for our time!
“Dear God, Our great and awesome, God. We’re sorry for everything, God. We’re sorry for believing Satan’s lies about you that got us into this mess in the first place. We’re sorry for rejecting the Prince of Peace and for foolishly handing over the authority of this planet to the “prince of this world.” We’re sorry for our intense rebellion that finally left the world with only one person who trusted you, Noah. We find it remarkable, God, that despite our unfaithfulness, you persisted in your attempts to stay in contact with us. You finally found a friend in Abraham and made a covenent with his family in order to bless the entire world. But we then preceeded to break that covenant a thousand times and in every generation. We’re sorry, God. Yet again, despite our unfaithfulness, you remained faithful and finally showed up in human form. We’re sorry for not recognizing you when you came, God. We had no idea that you were humble and that you were the kind of God that would take such an interest in “worthless sinners.” Quite honestly, we didn’t want you to be that way, God. We’re sorry for that too. We’re also sorry that, although many of us since the cross have chosen to take your name, “Christian”, that we have persisted to misrepresent you most of the time. We’re sorry for using your name to promote violence rather than peace. We’re sorry for using your name to persecute, rather than to be like Jesus and to suffer and serve. We’re sorry for using your name to persistently judge and criticize others. We’re also sorry for becoming “anti-Pharisee Pharisees” by judging and condemning those who judge and condemn others. We’re a mess, God. We’re also sorry for completely neglecting your command that we should care for this planet. We’re sorry for our negligence, greed, lust for pleasure and money that have all contributed to things like factory farming and the oil spill. We’re sorry for our luke warm attitude toward injustice and for not really caring about much of anything besides our own comfort and security. We’ve let you down God and we are sorry.
But now, God, we ask for your intervention. Our planet is suffering, physically and spiritually. We ask for your intervention not because we deserve it – we certainly don’t – but because of your kindness and love. Your holy name, your reputation, and your character needs to be vindicated in this world and to this end we ask for your intervention. We have been massively unfaithful God, but yet we appeal once again to your faithfulness. We pray that the light of your goodness, mercy and love will lighten this entire planet. Heal your people, dear God. Come into your people and through your people give this planet another opportunity to see Jesus.
Thank you, God.”