Q: I heard a guy on the radio this week talking about how Japan "is a godless nation" and the latest earthquake and tsunami are punishments from God. How would you respond to someone who has such beliefs? Doesn't God love everyone?
A: Mmmm ... I'm not sure I would say that God loves everyone. God is willing to love everyone. God desires to love everyone. And I believe God is grieved that not everyone meets the criteria for His love. But the Bible does indicate that God's love is reserved for God's people ... and we each have the choice of being one of those people.
I also don't know if it's true that Japan "is a godless nation." What is true is that traditionally they have not shared the values of Christian nations. For example, in war they have been savage invaders and conquerors, inflicting horrendous atrocities on their victims. It's been only since the United States dropped atomic bombs on them that they stopped behaving so badly on the world scene. If the U.S. hadn't done that, it's likely that they would be a ruthless regime terrorizing the world today. Like I said, they have traditionally not shared the values of the western Christian people groups.
But does that mean that all Japanese people are godless? No, I don't think so. In fact, there are Christian churches in Japan. There are Christian missionaries working in Japan. Look, I don't know if God is trying to punish Japan with these calamities or not. The fact is, nobody knows such things. If I were the Japanese people though, I would be asking myself if God would have any reason to punish the entire nation.
I heard recently that less than 1% of the Japanese population is Christian - and that most Japanese don't claim any religion at all. So it is fertile ground for evangelism. As Jesus said, "the harvest is many, but the workers are few." So rather than try to decide whether or not the Japanese people might somehow deserve the calamities they're experiencing --- I believe it would be more Christlike to wade into their misery and despair and show them the love of Christ.
Knowing God's nature and character the way I do, it's entirely possible that God will use these calamities to help bring more Japanese people to Christ. We should all be at least praying for them and asking God to use this time to reveal Himself to the Japanese people. Let us all pray that God will be glorified in the end through these calamities.
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