Tag Archives: sin

It’s Your Fault

I’m sure we’ve all at one time or another been unfairly blamed for something that has gone wrong with someone else.

Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

1 Kings 17:17-24

Elijah Brings a Boy Back to Life

17 Several days later, the son of the woman who owned the house got sick, and he kept getting worse, until finally he died.

18 The woman shouted at Elijah, “What have I done to you? I thought you were God’s prophet. Did you come here to cause the death of my son as a reminder that I’ve sinned against God?”

19 “Bring me your son,” Elijah said. Then he took the boy from her arms and carried him upstairs to the room where he was staying. Elijah laid the boy on his bed 20 and prayed, “Lord God, why did you do such a terrible thing to this woman? She’s letting me stay here, and now you’ve let her son die.” 21 Elijah stretched himself out over the boy three times, while praying, “Lord God, bring this boy back to life!”

22 The Lord answered Elijah’s prayer, and the boy started breathing again. 23 Elijah picked him up and carried him downstairs. He gave the boy to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive.”

24 “You are God’s prophet!” the woman replied. “Now I know that you really do speak for the Lord.”

This passage gives us an interesting journey into Old Testament beliefs about the cause and effects of death.

Elijah was staying with this widow in Zarephath, had indeed saved her and her son from certain starvation, yet when her son becomes ill and dies, she blames Elijah.

Of course we are familiar with searching for a reason for illness.  If we are unwell, we go to the doctors and expect them to tell us what is wrong, why we feel so poorly – and what they are going to do about it.  We are used to medical science being able to explain our ills, and become very uncomfortable if the answer is a genuine, ‘we don’t know why’.  So perhaps we can understand this woman looking for a reason for why her son has become ill – if not agree with the conclusion she reaches.

She concludes that her son’s illness is to remind her, if not punish her for her sin.  That may seem like an antiquated belief to us, but is it any different to the question we often hear,

What have I done to deserve this?

The implication being that there is a cause and effect of illness.  Well of course there is, but it is more to do with bacteria, genetics and pathology – not related to the good or otherwise we have done in life.  People getting ill and dying is a fact of life – totally unconnected to their morality.  They have done nothing to deserve it.

Elijah proves to her that this is not the case.  He prays, the son starts breathing again and is restored to his mother.

The collection of stories in these chapters are about Elijah being proven to be God’s prophet and being able to do God’s work – not any theology of sickness and death, and that is how we must treat them.

Is the death of a child any prove or consequence of a mothers sin?  Emphatically not.

Does God speak in and through his people? Certainly yes.

Thank you Lord
that illness and disease
are not punishment
or judgement,
that that is not the kind of God you are.

Thank you
that you are a God of love and faithfulness.

Thank you
that though others may seek to blame us
or you
that is not the case.

Thank you,
that in all our questions,
our misunderstandings,
our failure to grasp your ways,
you continue to speak
and to work,
in us
and through us

Getting it wrong – and God putting it right

Not such a good day at the office for this juggler – or the person who they hit!

We can all get things wrong.  We all have accidents, but some of the things we do wrong are intentioned – we know we are not doing the right thing.  Some of those things have few consequences, other thing can have far greater ramifications.  We’re talking about sin – pure and simple doing wrong.

And yet still God continues to call people to serve him.

This weeks readings have an array of people acutely aware of how unworthy they are to be God’s workers:

Isaiah has a vision of the holiness of God, and is acutely aware of his unholiness.

Paul is aware of how much he had got wrong in his life, and knows he doesn’t deserve to be called an apostle.

Simon Peter in the presence of Jesus, knew that he was a sinner.

There is not one of us who can say that we are not a sinner; that there is nothing we have got wrong; that there have not been times when we have lived unholy lives.

In the words of The Pet Shop Boys:

When I look back upon my life

It’s always with a sense of shame

I’ve always been the one to blame

For everything I long to do

No matter when or where or who

Has one thing in common, too

It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin

It’s a sin

Everything I’ve ever done

Everything I ever do

Every place I’ve ever been

Everywhere I’m going to

It’s a sin

At school they taught me how to be

So pure in thought and word and deed

They didn’t quite succeed

For everything I long to do

No matter when or where or who

Has one thing in common, too

Father, forgive me, I tried not to do it

Turned over a new leaf, then tore right through it

Whatever you taught me, I didn’t believe it

Father, you fought me, ’cause I didn’t care

And I still don’t understand

So I look back upon my life

Forever with a sense of shame

I’ve always been the one to blame

For everything I long to do

No matter when or where or who

Has one thing in common, too

It’s a sin…


But God still calls each of us and takes us on.

Isaiah is touched by God – and forgiven.

Paul knows that God has been at work in his life, and turned it around.

Simon Peter is blessed, and called by Jesus to a new task.

God knew where they’d been and what they’d done – but still loved them and called them.

Whatever place we know ourselves to be in, whatever state our lives have become – God still calls us and still uses us – for by the death of Jesus, the touch of God in our lives, we are made clean.  We are forgiven and called onwards.  We do nothing by our own power, or our own worthiness – but by God’s grace working within us.

We may not be worthy – but God is.  Forgiveness is offered.  Jesus died to get rid of all the things that stand between us and God.

We can rise up and follow God.  Our sin is forgiven.  We are called to walk with Christ, to work for him, to live in his forgiveness and power.