Without warning the people of Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City and all the other towns in between these two cities in the northern coast of Mindanao, suffered a most devastating flash flood in their history. According to what I’ve read, a month’s worth of flood waters was suddenly dumped by Typhoon Sendong in just one night, Friday night, December 16, 2011 in these two major cities in Mindanao. It never happened that way before. Yes, there were floods occasionally but only in a few places of the city and not so devastating and so widespread as this one. As of this writing, more than 400 people are reported dead due to this disaster.
Why Flash Floods?
And it is once again during these times—just like during the Typhoon Ondoy–that people ask: “Why does God allow Flash Floods?” Why does God allow evil to befall on us humans? Why does God allow suffering? Is God really a loving God?
These are tough questions which are not easy to answer and we cannot just brush them aside. People die and suffer everywhere. So why does God allow such things to happen? Why does God allow evil?
May I suggest some reading materials that discuss about this topic:
I had just watched a short video presentation on the internet urging Christians to reach out and share the gospel to people whom one may not particularly like. The intention was good but there’s one comment by the video presenter that really caught my attention when he said, “Their eternity depends on us.”
I thought it was a serious mistake to think that people’s “eternity” (referring to salvation) is dependent on a Christian’s effort to share the gospel to others. I’ve heard this kind of talk before and this seems to be a prevailing teaching among many Christian churches and missions organizations today. I am also aware that in some churches, it is being taught that Christ will not come back until Christians will have completed the great commission through their evangelistic and missionary efforts.
Common Gospel Belief
Many Christians are passionately driven to go and share the gospel because they believe that the unbeliever’s salvation is dependent on their evangelistic or missionary efforts. Their zeal and dedication to share the gospel and to reach out to the unbelievers are admirable but something is amiss.
It is my belief that our salvation does not depend on any of our human effort. It does not depend on the believer’s efforts to “save” the unbeliever. I believe that salvation is only through Jesus Christ our Lord as the Bible asserts. It is by God’s grace that we have been saved. God did it through Christ. Without our help. It is God’s gift to us.
One large missions organization had actually made billboard posters declaring that millions of people are dying everyday and are right now in hell because Christians have not been wholehearted in their duty to go and share the gospel to those who have not heard it yet.
But is the unbeliever’s “eternity” really dependent on a Christian’s evangelistic and missionary efforts? I’d like to believe that God is in-charge of that. I believe that the salvation of mankind depends on Christ alone and not on any of our human action.
Yes, God does invite us to participate and get involved in what he is doing but it is not our evangelistic or missionary efforts that save people. The unbeliever’s salvation is not dependent on our performance.
In their zeal for the Lord, some Christians without realizing it have become annoying, offensive and confrontational in their approach to evangelism as they use their “diagnostic questions” to probe whether one is a believer or not. This is unfortunate but this happens all the time — sad to say.
Surely God has many ways of saving people we know nothing about even at the point of death. Surely, God could not be hindered by death. He is Lord and Savior of all and he has conquered death! For God, death is not a hindrance to salvation. He is in-charge and there is no need to worry about other people’s salvation.
To say that “their eternity depends on us” sounds to me like people won’t be saved without us—without human effort. It is sending a message that if Christians don’t do missions or evangelism, if Christians don’t share the gospel, it’s the Christian’s fault that millions of people are “not saved” and are already roasting in hell. It brings Christians on a guilt-trip if they don’t act. It’s a fear- anxiety- and guilt-driven method of evangelism based on an erroneous understanding of the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ.
I believe that God can save people even without us. In fact, he has already done so even without us! He has already reconciled us back to himself (2 Cor. 5:18-19). Even while we were still sinners Christ has already died for us about some two thousand years ago (Romans 5:8)!
As Christians, we are invited to participate in what God is doing right now through Christ by the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and in the lives of others who do not yet know Christ. Let us be more considerate, understanding and love-driven as we share the gospel to others and not become offensive and confrontational as we probe people with our “diagnostic questions.”
Let us go and make disciples driven not by guilt, fear and anxiety. Let us not think that the unbeliever’s salvation depends on us. Rather, let us go and make disciples knowing that Christ is in-charge and knowing that our salvation is secure in him. Let us live and share the gospel driven by love for people who are still unaware of God’s great love for all of humanity. Let’s participate by living and sharing the gospel knowing that people’s salvation is dependent on Jesus Christ not on us!
Our missions and evangelism should be motivated by faith, hope and love based on who God really is in Jesus Christ and who we are in him. It should not be motivated by a psychology of guilt, fear and anxiety.
People’s “eternity” depends on Jesus Christ, not on our missionary or evangelistic skills! Let’s participate gladly in what God though Christ by the Holy Spirit is doing in and through us! Let us continue living and sharing the good news of God’s love to all!