Two juveniles were charged with arson, according to news reports, in connection with the wildfires that ravaged Gatlinburg, Tenn., and the Great Smoky Mountains in November, killing 14, wounding others and scorching thousands of acres.
If these accusations are true, I wonder if these two people could have imagined the devastation that would come from their actions. It makes me think of two other people whose actions had consequences beyond what anyone (except God) could imagine. I refer to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
When they partook of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, sin—real sin and death—entered the world. From that one action, all of mankind fell, and the world and all the people in it would be scarred and scorched.
Like the original sin in the Garden, the Tennessee fire is a tragic reminder that life is real. When something like this happens, we are saddened and stunned by the devastation actions by humans can make. It also serves as a reminder that the choices we make have a real effect.
It’s popular in our culture today to unplug by wasting away hours on Netflix and other entertainments to kill the time. We do not always realize that we are accountable to God for every moment, every thought, every deed. Every person’s actions matter to God. To that end, we must learn to “take every thought captive to the will of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Apart from God’s redeeming grace made possible by Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection, our sin would permanently separate us from God and send us to the place where fires don’t burn out and torment doesn’t end. Thanks be to God, in Christ we have a Gospel that brings renewal and new and everlasting life that any sinner can receive.