Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
Tsunami” is the odd word many folks first learned about a month ago when big tidal waves, tsunamis, struck the shores of many a land fringing the Indian Ocean and beyond. These tsunamis, spawned from an earthquake some six miles below the Indian Ocean in the area of Indonesia, brought great destruction, as you know. Upwards of 250,000 bodies have or will have been counted or counted missing, either swept out to sea by or smashed against the flotsam and jetsam of the killing, resort-mashing, tremendous, and tremendously horrific waves, those tsunamis.
Now maybe you are not into these things, but they fascinate me, these tsunamis, and the earthquakes with the force of a million atom bombs that are their origin. Equally intriguing is how humans, those not buried by them, react to them. Impressive is the fact that we in America, even mid-west, oceanless Michiganders, know of the tsunamis that hit on December 26, 2004, and knew of them the very day they hit. How information flies! How much reporting has been done, from video footage, satellite images, word of cell phone, word of Internet, and the like. Not too long ago it might have been years before one heard of such a thing, even such a great devastation, so far away. And then by word of mouth. With this recollection here. And that there. With embellishments. So that we might have thought these things myths.
Impressive also is the response by the entire world to aid those and those people and countries and businesses devastated by the waves. Billions of dollars pledged from around the world. All kinds of folks and organizations and churches holding fund-raisers, taking collections, sharing expertise in order to express the care and concern of the world community when large numbers of its own kind are found out, tossed about by, and are suddenly, and tragically, no longer with us. One blood, we bleed together. It is news. It is more. It is touching. We want to help. And where there is opportunity and need we must. In the name of Christ, we must pray about the opportunity this may be for us to help these twenty-first century needy far-eastern neighbors, and then take the opportunity God may give. And if we are thoughtless about this, even nigh unto inconsiderate, then some other tsunami or ten have already killed our souls. And we, not they, are in need of the Red Cross….
But about tsunamis other than those ocean ones we need especially to reflect. One wonders if indeed God Himself, whom we believe is the Sovereign of the waves, has shaken up the world, and sent these waves for just this. For us to think of certain other, spiritual tsunamis. Not to build our resorts on just a bit higher ground. But for repentance. To cling not to palm trees, but to Christ. To hope not in foreign aid, but to seek Heaven’s help. To live no more according to self and status quo, but according to Scripture and standards of righteousness. To live no more by tooth and claw and hook and ladder but by grace and by faith.
About sin tsunamis, first of all, let us be thinking.
Sin tsunamis are caused by certain earthquakes of the devil-kind. They first came crashing onto the shores of humanity from a quaking long ago in Eden, when the Evil Tempter met a morally perfect and yet fallible man and woman, shook them up to slouch into sin, and set the whole world a-trembling and a-slouching. From this Edenic epicenter other sin-earthquakes have been triggered history-long and increasingly along certain fault-lines and among certain tectonic plates of humanity (Hollywood, Harvard, and the Happy-without-Truth Church, to name a few).
Oh the tidal waves generated by these off-the-Richter-scale quakings! Tidal waves of lies, waves of philosophies starting from man and ending there, and along the way declaring there is no God, there is no one God! Waves of Materialism. Waves of Evolution. Waves of Egalitarianism. The Tolerance wave. Sex waves. Entertainment waves. Waves of Products and Ads crashing into our stores and into our living rooms telling us to get them, tempting us that there is no meaningful life without them…. Waves of women, waves of men, the great ones, the buxom ones, the fast ones, the dunking ones, the ones who rock ‘n roll to raise money for tsunami victims…themselves sweeping into our life and wanting to take us out, far out, to their sea, and to their beliefs, to their lifestyle, and to their Neptune.
You know them. These and many other waves from hell have inundated the world. They have engulfed the universities, the entertainment industries, the churches, the websites, the homes, the schools, the governments, the unions, the revolutions, the malls, the main streets, the high and the low of all the world. There is no coast where these tsunamis have not struck. There is no society not swept away. There is even no high ground that sin has not flooded. No high ground either where men might have thought they were safe, or smart, or even on sacred ground.
See the results of the tidal waves of sin? No possibility for ABC and CNN or the BBC or bloody Arab websites to convey them to us, for they themselves are drowned under the waves. But by wisdom and a horror born of holiness we can see. By wisdom and with holy horror we see the death and destruction, the dissolution and despair, and the deceit of the floods of sin. By wisdom and horror, what Satan’s tsunamis have done is known. We see the men, the women, the young people, and the children left dangling from or crushed under the palm trees, or the very towers of learning they thought would be their refuge. We see one, and many even, cured of cancer, having a good time or making good time over here, another of the seven-foot variety with a great future on the court, another under the big lights…but all under the wrath of God and facing yet a final tsunami from heaven itself, a final judgment (of which, ultimately, all the present ones are preliminary!) sweeping sinners into sea depths and crevices into which they are righteously delivered, and into the pit of hell forever!
All well and good that we have reported and do report those tsunamis, I think you will agree. But there must also be this, dear reader. There must be a reporting that is more, I suppose, “in your face.” But it must be. For the problems of Indian Ocean tsunamis may (we might think) be far removed from us. But the sin tsunamis are not. In fact they are our tsunamis. Our sin tsunamis!
Yes, dear young reader. There are tsunamis that threaten us. They might kill our bodies. They would certainly bash and drown our souls. They are either headed our way, and at an alarming rate, or they have already overwhelmed us and are banging us around, pulling us out to sea, killing us. And so we need, for the waves coming, an early warning system of the spiritual kind. And, for the wreckage already done, the Red Cross of the gospel.
You ask: how can it be that there is the danger for us believers, of tidal waves, even, of sin? We are blessed! And has not the inspired Word revealed to us that we have received of the fullness of Jesus Christ? Is not this the life, even, of heaven? Has not our Lord, by saving us, committed Himself to preserving us? Are we not safe in our orthodoxy, our traditions, our homes, our schools, our churches … and our dating? I mean, Christian, and Reformed, and Protestant Reformed, and three or thirty generations of all this … is not this very high ground? Tsunamis, we believe and are sure, might sweep out the lowlands of humanity. They have, we see, hit hard those places of Christendom that are even below sea level. So we do not marvel when the sin waves sweep out the health-and-wealth gospellers and the churches of the smile, God-loves-your-homosexuality, variety. But really: What tsunami can ever threaten, or even reach us?
One, tsunamis from Satan are very powerful, more powerful than we. And, though under God’s sovereign government, this world is now the place of sin waves. They are all over the place, flooding and threatening the whole of this world in which we live, no matter how high and dry we are or think we are.
Two, we have a nature as low as the sea of humanity. Our flesh is at sea level, and not a foot above. And, according to this nature, and though in principle we be taken up to the mount of heaven, we are, nevertheless, by nature those who love to sip tea with, and cavort with, and resort to things worldlings resort to.
Three, there is evidence that the tsunamis of sin are fast approaching and/or have had their influence among us. Sometimes I wonder if in fact we are not treading, even now, in deep water, even being swept away, in our generations, with the world, out to sea….
Now, about these our sin tsunamis we would like to speak next time, God willing. But, you should know, there are certain other amazing tidal waves of which we must most certainly speak. They are even amazing grace waves, dear readers! For of the fullness of our precious Lord Jesus have all we received, and grace for grace. Surely our Lord, Lord of waves, and now when terrible tsunamis are overwhelming the world, would have us think of these things!
Till then, think like grace life: of tsunamis of sin and tsunamis of grace.
Some will kill.
Others do save.
And ride them!