When I was a new Christian in high school, I read the Bible quite a bit, including the Old Testament. I saw how the Israelites in the Old Testament would go from receiving blessings from God to departing from God’s ways, resulting in God’s punishment to wake them up and draw them back to Him. Our church had a youth Sunday where the whole service was put on by the youth. I was assigned the sermon, so I was going to talk about this pattern in the Old Testament and compare it to our society, which was also departing from God’s ways, asking the question if we should expect to escape God’s punishment.
When Sunday morning came, I was very anxious and convinced myself I was too sick to go through with it. A girl in my class had to come up with something at the last minute, and when I saw her many years later, the poor girl still remembered what I put her through. This morning I was reflecting back on this cowardly act of mine, and I realized it was the beginning of a pattern in my life of avoiding difficult confrontations on this subject.
The fact is, I am definitely not alone in this fear. Most everyone either refuses to believe that there is a God to whom we are accountable, or they believe in God, but think He is so merciful that we have nothing to fear from Him. Anyone who says anything about turning from evil to avoid the wrath of God is seen as an extreme nut.
However, I cannot escape the picture of God that we are given in the Bible and by the unchanging teaching of Catholic tradition. Yes, God is rich in mercy, but that doesn’t change the fact that sin destroys people. The mercy of God is that He provides a way by which we can be forgiven and cleansed of our sins, change our lives, and move from the path of destruction to the path of salvation. Meanwhile, our world continues on its downward path, sinking to depths I couldn’t imagine 40 years ago.
Therefore, I want to end my reluctance to speak on this subject and urge people to realize that an intervention from God is coming if we do not reverse our course. I don’t know when it will be, but I would not be surprised if it were soon. I don’t think our present course is sustainable very long. How do we reverse our course? We put our faith in Christ, receive his forgiveness, and let him give us the power of His love so that we can live lives filled with love for God and love for our neighbor. I hope to soon write more posts on how we specifically do that.