The tragic fire in a block of flats in London has left us deeply shocked. The speed and scale of the fire’s progress astounded even the Fire Brigade. The devastation for families is immense. As I write just a couple of days after the disaster we’ve yet to discover the human loss, but waves of grief are spreading far and wide. In the midst of this tragedy the response from the emergency services has been courageous in view of the personal risk. The general public played a massive part to help alleviate suffering and distress. We weep for the victims and pray for their families and friends. Let’s humbly pray: Lord, have mercy.
This tragedy makes us realise how fragile our life is. As a Londoner I’ve many personal links with the city. But it could have been any city. The world is so full of social unrest, religious strife, war, terrorism, violence and persecution that we may rightly long for God to intervene. Couldn’t God put all wrongs in an instant?
Jesus’ followers can take heart from God’s commitment to wipe out evil. He promised that a child would be born to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3v15). Why not now? Because to do so would involve wiping out humanity at a single stroke, and the chances of our being included in this are very high! The end is in the future. The Day has been set, but only God knows when, after which there will be a new creation with no more sadness, crying, pain or death. God has graciously given us time to have a change of heart: ‘not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3v9). God sent His Son Jesus into the world to fulfil His promise of being the serpent crusher. It involved his suffering the agony of the cross to provide the way for our sin to be forgiven and signalled how he had triumphed over evil that he would one day wipe out for good.
Jesus was asked about the tragedy of a tower in Siloam collapsing that killed eighteen people. When asked whether the people who died were more guilty than others living in the city of Jerusalem, he replied: ‘I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish’ (Luke 13v5). Jesus warns us to respond before our own end. For one day there will be The End.