Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How much risk can we take for heaven’s sake?

“DNA tests confirmed that a body found off the coast of Brazil is that of a priest who disappeared while flying over the Atlantic buoyed by hundreds of brightly colored party balloons, authorities said Tuesday.
The Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli set off from the Brazilian port city of Paranagua on April 20 strapped to 1,000 helium-filled balloons in an attempt to raise money to build a rest stop and worship center for truckers. But the 41-year-old Roman Catholic priest soon lost contact with his ground team, and the cluster of yellow, orange, pink and white balloons was found in the water a day later.” Source

This news story really makes me think. Of course I feel terribly sorry for this courageous priest and for all the people he has left behind here on earth. But was this really God’s calling on his life – to be airlifted to the heavens above by 1,000 party balloons!?
Okay, who am I to judge this poor man... It is just another tragic story, but I can’t help thinking that this was also a silly stunt and a misguided, naieve idea.

In my own country we just heard about a group of young volunteers and the tragic ordeal that they’ve been through while they were working for a Christian aid and development organization in Kenya. They came there to rebuild a school and paid for this ‘vacation’ out of their own pocket. And this is what happened to them: five young Dutch women between the ages of 17 and 25 were raped by a group of Kenyan men. Source

Now I am outraged, shocked and sad at the same time. And of course I can’t help asking myself – why on earth did God allow this to happen? That is a tough question to answer and I truly don’t know what to say. I only know that bad things happen to good people all of the time all over the world and Christians are certainly not immune to violence, crime, war, persecution, abuse and disasters. Come to think of it, Jesus – God’s Son, was not immune to violence, pain and humiliation either. He gave his life for us on that horrible cross and God didn't stop him because this was a price that needed to be paid and Jesus was the only one who was able to pay it. Can’t understand it fully, but I wholeheartedly believe it.

So God took a huge risk when He allowed his Son to go down to this dark pit we call earth. Excuse me for mixing up these tragic non-related stories, but again I have to think about the Brazilian priest who decided to go in the opposite direction. There’s nothing funny about that. It just makes me wonder what we are called to do down here on earth, how much risk we can sensibly take and which price we are prepared to pay in order to help our fellow human beings in the service of our God.


Paul said...

The following comment was posted by just j for now and accidentally deleted by me. Sorry, just j for now! (It was still in my cache memory, so I could retrieve it and re-post it myself)

Just found your blog. Good insight. I also really like this post as it's a question I've asked many times before.

I'm currently reading through Job again, which always causes me deep contemplation on the subject of "why bad things happen to good people."

I was just considering reading CS Lewis' "The Problem of Pain." Have you read it?

It's also hard for me to hear a story like that of the Brazilian priest and not question whether he heard from God before he tried such an outrageous feat.

Paul said...

Hi, Just j for now, thanks for commenting. Yes, I did read C.S. Lewis' book 'The Problem of Pain' (the Dutch translation 'Gods Megafoon') and I think this man came up with some of the best answers. I love the book of Job - by far the best book ever written on the theme of human pain and innocent suffering. As a Christian, I still have big questions about this topic and I don't expect to get all the answers here below. I think we need to have the whole picture in order to get a better understanding. The book of Psalms is another favourite, because these songs are true heart cries and there is plenty of room for big - sometimes unanswered - questions. And what about Lamentations? I didn't hear many sermons about this book, but I think there is a place for pain, sadness, holy anger and discontent in the Bible. And I am so impressed by the fact that Jesus didn't walk away from suffering and didn't use all his powers to stop his enemies. It's mind blowing and heart warming...

Vicki said...

You're right. There is so much in this world that is unjust and unfair. It's always been that way. We just need to remember that God doesn't necessarily allow these things to happen to us; He's given us all the free will to make our own choices - occasionally (too often), these choices affect the choices and lives of others. Sometimes our choices are silly and thoughtless and sometimes they're harmful and wrong. This is why it's so important to really know God and to try to emulate our lives after Jesus. What's here on this earth is important but only temporary. What awaits us is good and forever!

Oops...sorry, I didn't mean to start preaching on your blog, Paul!

little david said...

Paul, we did not read about this attack while in Kenya, but it took place on the last day that we were working with children in a dangerous village west of Nairobi. The news article you referenced did not mention the locality, but this is a very disturbing development in Kenyan culture. I pray that our church will continue to be strong in supporting fellow Christians in Kenya and that Kenyan Christians will rise to positions of leadership to address the underlying conditions (economic, traditional, and spiritual)which make such attacks feasible.