We all know not to touch a hot cooker because we will immediately get burned. We are familiar with wrapping up warm because if we don’t we will freeze to death. All these immediate effects as a result of an action belong to the material world. But actions such as not going to church on Sunday, not believing in the Churches teachings or committing adultery on ones spouse, All of these have an immediate effect on us spiritually and for an eternity but we pay no heed to them because they don’t really effect us in the here and the now.
If mankind were told that not going to church on Sunday meant you’d break out in sores all over your body and suffer a stroke, what do you think would happen? If we were told that committing adultery meant falling down dead on the spot how well would we all obey this command not to commit adultery?
This is because we cling to this life and our faith is weak. We cling to this life not because we are afraid of the Unknown ( we can’t fear what we don’t know ) but because we are afraid of losing what we already know and what we’ve always known such as we hear with our ears and see with our eyes and is within our human touch.
The only thing that can cure our condition is the Grace of God which can come in the form of a discipline. So in a way although I’ve said our sin has an immediate spiritual effect, I’m gonna slightly contradict myself here and admit that some sins can lead eventually ( not immediately ) to the physical. This makes God sound terrible doesn’t it? I mean can’t he just develop some sort of super nanny bold corner for us all to stand in until we’ve cooled down? Is there any need for the STIs and HIV from fornication or going to prison for killing our neighbour? This is because we pull God down to our human way of thinking.
Why these natural disasters that innocent people suffer from too?
We can go down the route now of speaking about the mystery of suffering in creation but this post is really not designed to be a long drawn out essay on that. It’s always difficult to cover everything in one piece so I’ll cover that another time.
Short answer for people of faith? God and natures discipline upon us is something sinners bring upon ourselves. Our sins of not going to church at all may not seem big to us but in the heavenly realm, it is so big it’s as if you took an axe and murdered your whole family. In the eyes of God who is above our human way of thinking when it comes to what’s evil and isn’t, our sins are enormous.
Our sins don’t just effect us but they effect and scandalise the innocent. So the innocent end up taking the brute force of nature because of something the guilty did. Or if we do something wrong in the presence of others it can influence the innocent to do the same which is why Christ says in scripture that anyone who scandalises the little ones or teaches others to disobey the commandments will be severely punished.
But we don’t see these effects are tied to our sins because we are all spiritually blind to it and care only for what we see and feel and our major obstacle is pride which we’ve been taught is good thing. When I see evil in the world the first thing I’m thinking is ” My sins big or small contributed to this ” and I pray a prayer for mercy and conversion of the world. But how many of us think like this or say this? We’d rather blame God and everyone else but we dare not consider our bad behaviour contributes to the knock on domino effect of evil in the world. The number one culprit? Pride!!!
If we put a weed among the crop, eventually the healthy crop succumbs to the weed and it all dies. Same happens when we put an innocent boy into a group of thugs and eventually peer pressure will see this young man succumb and lose his innocence. This can happen also on a global scale. Sin is that weed amongst the innocent crop in the world and all it takes is one rotten apple to spoil the innocent.
We don’t see it because our faith is weak and because we often don’t ( like the hand in the fire ) feel it’s immediate effect. There are two fires however, the material and the eternal. We fear the material more than the eternal ( because either we don’t believe in it or fantasise about a deathbed conversion ) but Jesus ( who himself trembled in fear of the physical suffering he was about to endure ) tells us not to fear those who can kill the body but him who can kill both body and soul in hell. Jesus himself understood the people’s thinking of his time and just like people back then didn’t care less about the effects sin had on their soul they’re no different today.
Like I said at the beginning of this post: if not going to church on Sunday meant we’d all break out in sores and suffer a stroke, how many people do you think would show up to church? But when were told we risk suffering an eternal torment? “Nah, I’ll worry about religion when I retire ” says the young 24 year old man who dies in a car crash 5 hours later. We all fantasise about this deathbed conversion whereby we gamble our souls, live the sinful life we want and then confess it all on our deathbed and get into heaven.
Question is: Do you really want to be that guy?