Scripture: Genesis 50:15-21; Proverbs 11:17-21
This Sunday in our sermon series, Through a Mirror Darkly, we are discussing how sickness is something we all face in our lives. Those of us who are lucky are sick very rarely. However, one of the most challenging aspects of sickness is that it doesn’t discriminate. The tough thing about the indiscriminate nature of illness is that there is no real answer as to why it happens in some people and not others. Perhaps it’s genetics. Perhaps it’s our environment. Perhaps it’s just bad luck.
The fact is that when we get sick, we often look for answers, and in Proverbs: “Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but whoever pursues evil will die….Be assured, the wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will escape.” The sentiment behind this verse is that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, which can be true.
But here’s the rub: according to Proverbs, the reason why bad things happen to bad people is because God is dispensing punishment for your bad behavior. So based on this logic, God is watching your every move and is going to discipline you when you make a wrong move. Likewise, God will reward you when you make the right move. This is the original intention behind the word blessing in the Bible. A blessing is a gift God gives to humans, often as a reward for obedience.
Indeed, this idea is fundamental to the way the Bible is structured, particularly in the Old Testament. If you follow God’s commandments and do God’s bidding, then you will be the beneficiary of God’s blessings. Likewise, if you stray from God’s commandments and ignore God’s bidding, then you will be the recipient of God’s judgment. This Sunday we are going to challenge this way of thinking and discuss how the idea that God would punish you or other people for something you did wrong is poisonous theology. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. See you soon!