home > Pastor’s Desk > 2016 > APRIL > WHO CAN WE BLAME?

​WHO CAN WE BLAME?

David AttenboroughBlame doesn’t really solve anything. Yet most of us seem content to blame rather than solve. When David Attenborough was asked by Charles Woolley, during last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” interview, why he didn’t believe there was a God, Mr. Attenborough didn’t give a reason, rather, he raised an objection. (There is a world of difference in proving that something does not exist, and, objecting to its existence!) His objection was to blame God for human suffering. He said, “I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs.” How could there be a good all-powerful God who would create such a barbaric scenario, reasons Mr Attenborough.

 

Blame doesn’t really comfort anyone.

Blame can lead to unforgiveness and the highly emotionally toxic condition of bitterness. An unforgiving bitter, person, doesn’t solve anything or even find any lasting comfort in their blaming. Some of life’s difficulties can not be solved in this life-time, but the one who is afflicted with difficulties can always at least be comforted in this life-time. But not if all anybody does is blame.

 

Blame doesn’t really help anyone.

Our propensity to blame started with our first parents. When the Creator arrived in the Garden of Eden to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, Adam and Eve hid. When God confronted with Adam about why he had eaten from the forbidden tree, Adam’s immediate response was to blame Eve. Eve in turn blamed the serpent, and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on!

When Job’s so-called comforters turned up to solve, comfort and help, all they did was blame. They blamed Job for his predicament. Surely he had sinned, they argued, or had been foolish or not given God His due honour? In all their blaming, Job was not comforted.

 

Blame doesn’t really change anything.

Harsh criticism may, at times, be warranted – but unless it is accompanied by aid nothing will change. A pastor may be criticised for a particular ministerial deficiency, but unless he is aided by the support of the same critic, there is very little likelihood that his deficiencies will be addressed and thus, nothing will change.

When Christ’s disciples saw the man born blind, they asked who was to blame?

¶ As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?
John 9:1-2

Jesus Christ brings comfort, help, solutions, and change.

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
John 9:3
loa-loa-filariasisRather than blaming anyone, Christ solved, comforted, helped, and brought change to the situation. This is the difference that Christ can make in any difficult situation. God may be the One to blame in some people’s minds for what appears to be senseless suffering in this world, but this necessarily requires that He also exists. Thus, David Attenborough’s (and it is an objection repeated by Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins) objection to God only works if there is a God to blame. I wonder if our ability to see any possible good from tragedy, suffering, misery, pain, has more to do with our very very finite knowledge of how the world works? Similarly, I wonder if God always has morally good reasons for having a world in which tragedy, suffering, misery, pain, happens. Someone has pointed out that in the absence of these adversities such positive virtues as compassion, mercy, forgiveness, long-suffering, patience, toil, could not be developed in those God is preparing in this life for the life-everlasting.

 

The emptiness of Mr Attenborough’s misplaced blame.

When David Attenborough shakes his fist at God and blames Him for the suffering of the East African boy blighted with the “Loa Loa Eye-Worm”, nothing is solved. The boy is not comforted by this blaming. The boy is not helped by this blaming. (I wonder whether the boy shares Mr Attenborough’s blame God for his affliction or whether he actually looks to God to solve, comfort, help and change his predicament?) By the way, Mr Attenborough is only partly right about this parasitic worm which pervades the swamps and rain forests of West Africa (not East Africa). According to Wikipedia

Loa loa filariasis is a skin and eye disease caused by the nematode worm Loa loa. Humans contract this disease through the bite of a deer fly or mango fly.

loa-loa-filarias2Something that Mr Attenborough fails to mention is that this parasite doesn’t require a human eye for its survival (even though he asserts that it does) and that it can be hosted by a human or animal without detection or even symptoms for many years. He also fails to mention the many medical missionaries who have gone into these regions of Africa to comfort, heal, help, and change this situation on behalf of those who are afflicted with such parasites. The Loa Loa Filariasis Parasite is treatable with medication and in some incidences, surgery. The God whom David Attenborough, Stephen Fry, and Richard Dawkins blame for such injustices appears to be the same God who has raised up people of compassion, self-sacrificial love and dedication, to bring healing, hope and comfort to those afflicted.

 

Blaming won’t heal you.

CCBRT Moshi: Side stories from the fieldOrganisations such as CBM (Christian Blind Mission) are tremendously effective in providing solutions for people in Africa and other parts of the world who are afflicted with curable blindness and other diseases. Of  course, they aren’t the only organisation doing such work, World Vision, Compassion International, are also providing hope, help, and healing in Jesus’ Name to the poorest, most desperate people’s of the world. When Jesus told His disciples that this particular blind man was afflicted so that the works of God could be made manifest (John 9:3), He was stating a principle for dealing with any life-difficulty: rather than wasting your time looking for someone to blame, seek our Heavenly Father’s grace to minister hope, help, healing, solutions, and comfort to those who are afflicted. This means we get involved with the hurting, broken, damaged, lost, and confused individuals of our world and show them the love and holiness of God. And it also means that we care enough for our society to speak up about injustice and unrighteousness that can only lead to even further hurt, brokenness, damage, pain, and confusion. This is one reason why we take a stand for the sanctity of marriage as the only legitimate context for human sexuality. 

  

It’s time to stop blaming and time to start your healing.

jesus-speaks-with-a-man-born-blindBlaming pours fuel on the fires of unforgiveness that simmer and flare-up in your soul. It’s time to let it go. It’s time to unclench your fist and open your palm toward Heaven. It’s time to change. It’s time to be healed. You may have been blaming God for how unfair your life has been, and secretly withdrawing from Him because you feel you can no longer truly trust Him with your life. Let it go. He is trustworthy. He knows what’s best for you. He loves you more than anybody else can or does. He offers you hope, help, healing, comfort, and solutions and it begins with you acknowledging your need for Him.

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
John 9:4-7

Amen.

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. Armin

    Interesting reading. If your research on Attenborough’s programme on 60min is correct and I am sure you would have done your homework well. Why not send it to 60min and see what their response is? They may invite you to challenge him on this subject and I am sure Our Lord would be with you.
    Just a thought
    Armin.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.

THINK ABOUT THIS

In Australia, it’s football finals time and the U.S. the last Grand Slam event for the year has just concluded. I find a lot of life lessons from observing elite athletes — including and especially those who play football and those who play tennis. Most people might consider football to be a team sport and tennis to be individual sport. But the distinction is not so clear these days. Often times footballers are individually coached by “position coaches” and a tennis player is often just who the public sees of a team of people responsible for the performance of that player. At the time of writing, there are remaining four Australian Rules Football (AFL) teams about to play off in the Preliminary Finals (including my beloved Geelong Cats). Last weekend, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain defeated Casper Ruud of Norway. Both players have intriguing stories which I will mention shortly. In the AFL, after a disastrous last season, the Collingwood Magpies appointed a new coach for this season, Craig McRae. Even though they got off to a slow start this season, under McRae’s oversight ended up having an 11-straight winning streak toward the end of the season and now look like genuine  Premiership contenders. What do Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Craig McRae, and the Collingwood football team, all have in common? All the players at the elite level of their sport make an enormous commitment to train, practice, sleep, hydrate, and eat a regulated diet. Yet at the very highest levels in their respective sporting codes the difference between the elite and the extra-elite is no longer skill or fitness. In fact, the difference between them is so applicable to everyday life that it may be the most relevant and do-able thing you hear for a long time. So, think about this.

LOOKING BACK OVER THE PAST 200 YEARS

As Kim and I enjoyed our weekly coffee-date this morning at Stillwater, she looked out ruminatively across at all of the development that has taken place over the years where the North and South Esks merge to form the Tamar River.

“I wonder if the settlers who came here two hundred years ago” she asked, “could have imagined the silos would have been built over there and then turned into a luxury hotel, or that two bridges would have been built here, or that their tiny village would grow into a large city?”

“What’s more interesting” I responded, “is if anyone today can envision what it will all look like in another two hundred years!”

And my response then got me thinking. Could it be possible to imagine what Launceston will end up looking like in two hundred years—and, what about our church? What will our church will look like in two hundred years?

relevance-intact-the-place-of-the-church-in-tasmania

Tasmanian churches play a vital role in our state as a moral compass and social leader. Our moral compass was given to us 2,000 years ago by Christ  who then commissioned the Church to preach, teach, and care in His Name. The Church’s role as a social leader was instigated by Jesus who embraced the shunned, condemned oppressors of the vulnerable, and upheld the sacredness of every human life and taught His followers to do likewise. Two thousand years later, Tasmanian churches gather weekly and continue proclaim the good news that Jesus taught, care for the poor and homeless, feed the hungry, welcome refugees, and provide thousands of young Tasmanians with an education. This is why the former Examiner deputy editor recently described the Tasmanian Church as “the most fundamental pillar in society” but then described it as being led by “a pious clique of fancy robed hypocrites, with less and less relevance each year to the wider community” (28/8/2022). The basis for his sharp criticism is grounded in his assessment that the Tasmanian Church has not recalibrated its moral compass to align itself with culture’s progressive values. Here’s why I disagree with the esteemed former deputy editor.

THE GOOD SAMARITAN AND THE INN-KEEPER

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR? The Jewish leaders had a very strict understanding of who God accepted and who God rejected. Obviously, they taught, God had accepted the Jews as His favourite – particularly Jewish men. Jewish women were sort of accepted, but only as second-class members of God’s people. This obviously also meant that unless a gentile (a non-Jew) converted to Judaism they could not be accepted by God. Therefore, God rejected all gentiles — and He especially rejected Roman gentiles — but He reserved His ultimate rejection for Samaritans! Jesus then tells the Temple-lawyer the story of the Good Samaritan.

THE PRODIGAL FATHER

 Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.