Saturday, 17 June 2017

In the wake of London’s fire

In the wake of London’s fire

It can be earthquakes… floods… terrorism, or – as in the case of London so tragically on June 12th - a terrible fire disaster at Grenfell tower block.  The question “Why?” is inevitably on our minds.  The mind can go back to another account of a tower disaster, recorded in the Bible.  Eighteen people had died when Jerusalem’s Tower of Siloam had fallen on them (Luke 13: 1-5).  This tragedy – following the wicked killing of other innocents under the despotic Pontius Pilate – was causing citizens in Jerusalem to come to Jesus, with the same question – “Why?”

The Lord’s answer to his questioners does not lessen our distress at the calamities here in London. But - although deeply shocked and grieved - we are not left completely devoid of understanding.  

For Scripture teaches us that adversity is firmly built into our view of life on this world:

We are all living in a fallen world.  Our present world-order is not as originally created.  Basically we became a race of rebels, fallen from our custodianship over creation – so bringing both ourselves and the creation itself into the frustration of ‘bondage to decay’ (Romans 8:18-23).  Even the ground was to be affected (Genesis 3:17,18).  In our imperfection, judgements are faulty.  Mistakes are made. Accidents take place, in which innocent people are both hurt and killed. 

We are all living in a temporary home.  When questioned in the face of Jerusalem’s tower disaster, Jesus explained that those killed were no more ‘guilty’ to die, than anyone else.  All will die one day. But his words give the warning: One day it will be your turn.  In the present, we must indeed run to the aid of those who suffer - but tragedy reminds us all that centre stage for us all can never be this life. In personal humility, we are wise to prepare ourselves at any moment for the next….

We are all living on borrowed time.  Jesus went on to speak of a fruitless fig tree (Luke 13: 6-9). Should it be cut down? No, Give it a year’s reprieve.  The lesson was clear.  If some people are cut off in a matter of seconds, those left should humbly consider how they will use the life that has been spared to them.  This leads to a final truth:

We are all living as debtors to love.  People hung on Jesus’ words because they knew that he had solid answers for this world’s sorrows.  Indeed he was the answer, for at the Cross we meet the love of the suffering God himself.  One prayer must be that, out of the trauma of London’s present troubles, there will be both helpers and sufferers themselves who experience this, and respond.