By now most people have probably heard what Pat Robertson said in response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti. While the snippet about a ‘deal with the devil’ pretty much sums up what he said, I do encourage people to watch the entire clip. While I do not agree with many aspects of what he said, I feel there are a few areas of self-reflection exposed by his callous words. I’d like to elaborate on those before diving into what was so tragic about his words.
Pat’s statements about Haiti being cursed because of their ‘deal with the devil’, brings each of us face to face with our own willingness or embarrassment about confronting sin. Let’s forget for a second the timing of Pat’s comments, or even what he was referring to. Forget the situation, the people, the messenger, and ask yourself “Am I willing to call sin, sin?”
Forget about Pat Robertson for a second. The fact of the matter is, if you’re like me, you’d never say anything like that whether it was right or wrong because you’d be too scared. And God wants to change that. There is a time and a place for us to confront sin. Jesus did it, his disciples did it, and so must we. The Holy Spirit will tell you when and how, but to act as if we can go through life, and pretend that everything around us is OK, is naive.
So, Pat was wrong, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid to say the right thing when the time comes.
Sin and Consequence
What do you actually believe about the protection or lack of it, when we live by, or ignore a relationship with God? I am not going to address this on the national, but rather on a personal level.
The fact is, when we walk in relationship with God, through Jesus, we have two kinds of protection. The first is the supernatural protection that you read about in the Bible through miracles. The second is the insight and foresight that the Holy Spirit gives us when we allow him to live through us.
If you live in relationship with God, and live according to his principles, you will avoid many, many things that other people have to deal with. Both because of his protection, and because of the simple fact that his principles work. In the areas that you ignore him, you will inevitably experience hardship. But not all hardship is because you’re ignoring God. The two principles are not mutually exclusive.
But if you do not live in relationship with him, and you open yourself up to all manner of ungodly influence, the consequences can be fatal. This is not because God is judging you, but rather because he has already judged the sin, and you’re walking right in it. He’s offering relationship to protect you from the things that will harm you, and when you choose those things over him, the curse of those sins comes walking into your life like a virus on the hands of a dinner guest.
Just because Pat Robertson gets on TV and crassly states that God is judging a country right after they experience their worst disaster in centuries, that doesn’t mean that we can discount the fact that in our own lives, our sin will lead us to the very things that God will warn and protect us from.
It sounds unrelated, but at least for this Christian, they are not. I’m not in the nation-judging business, but part of what Pat Robertson said stirs an uncomfortable pot in my spirit. I think it’s wise to realize that a bit of truth mixed with a lot of crazy, still has a little truth that we can extract for ourselves. And the truth is, sin takes us in the opposite direction of God’s protection.
The Problem With Pat Robertson
So now that I’ve wrung the only positive things from Pat’s statements I could find, let me talk about why I think he should have gotten prayed up before getting shaved up that morning.
Timing and Tone matter. Jesus was not a blundering idiot. He was a master of nuance, tone, approach, and wording. Because the Holy Spirit gave him the words and when to say them. Negative tone combined with bad timing can be extremely hurtful.
I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar. But I know the voice of God. And I know a bit about how he speaks to, and about, those who are hurting. And he doesn’t say what Pat Robertson said, when Pat Robertson said it.
God may send someone to tell a country to repent from witchcraft. But when God sends them, the buildings will still be standing.
When the buildings are in shambles, when the people are dying and in desperate need of hope, God offers his love, not his judgment. How do I know?
Because in our darkest moments, God does not come at us with fists, he comes at us with open arms. Because when we are hurting, we are most aware that we are desperate for hope and love. There is a time and place for accountability, for strong words, and difficult truths. But that time is not now. And Pat Robertson should know that.
Pat, I wish instead of sitting in your thousand dollar chair, blaming judgment and curses for people crushed under collapsed buildings, you had instead listened to the voice of God and said this.
“Our prayers are with the people of Haiti in the midst of this terrible tragedy. I call on Christians around the world to pour out the love of our God to that country right now. To show his mercy and love to those who are hurting. Give of your finances bountifully, and pray without ceasing for those still in need of rescue. And be a source of hope to those around you who have none.”
That was the tone needed for the timing of that day.