There has been an escalation in national tragedies in recent days. These tragedies always evoke the need to know why, prompting all of us to search for answers and explanations. As followers of Christ, we desire to seek and find these answers just as the rest of the world does; however, our search is guided by the unique hope found only in the saving life and message of Jesus Christ, whereas others seek the same answers aimlessly. The challenge comes when we as Christians are called upon to articulate this hope and live out our faith. So, what is the Christian’s response to tragedy, evil and hate?
First, according to our convictional beliefs Christians do not have to live with “headline hysteria.”
Our faith as defined in the Bible tells us that our world will become darker as the day of the Lord draws closer. These recent acts, although shocking, should not be surprising. A quick study of how the early church was started shortly after Christ’s resurrection and ascension sets the standard for living out our faith in a world seeking to reconcile life without God in the equation.
The early church was started in a time of political corruption, institutional religion, hostility, fear, and accusations against the followers of Christ. In the midst of all that we still see a great time of power, boldness and a movement of God. Early Christians were familiar with times of hostility, fear, hatred and violence. They found a place for their voice of faith, a voice of hope, in the midst of fear and chaos.
Today, we are seeing the struggle of human nature trying to figure itself out. Human nature has always struggled with itself. Philosophers, psychologists, and teachers have cultivated many theories on human nature and how it can help instead of harm, but none of them ultimately offer the answer needed to provide hope and redemption for mankind.
The human condition is a fallen condition. We are a corrupt, depraved and sinful people. None of our efforts, laws, feelings or actions can save us.
We are seeing the result of a naturalistic lifestyle.
When my feelings determine how I act, I will then act in a way that seems right to me, and no one can or should tell me differently – to do so is to hate me or judge me or stereotype me.
Listen: Where there is no moral boundary, there is no moral burden.
When we live for self and for self-expression we lose the ability to see the value of others. Others become the enemy to my expression and my freedom.
If others can live the way they feel they should, then I can also live out my life the way I feel I should. Allowing all forms of self-expression to take the reins – sexual orientation, personal feelings of hatred, anger, abuse and murder – eliminates the role of a moral boundary. If one is free to choose his or her gender then why is someone else not free to choose to take a life? When everyone lives as is right in his or her own eyes, we have lost a moral boundary. Without a moral boundary there is no regard toward others; there is no moral burden.
Jesus did not come to save man from culture; He came to save man from himself. Life matters to God. God cares about redeeming mankind.
While this is true, people continue to persistently ask: “If God is a loving, all powerful God why doesn’t He stop these acts?” The answer to this is fairly simple.
To ask this question is to invoke a moral code, a code that admits evil and good exist. Invoking a moral code begins the process of establishing a moral boundary and restoring a moral burden. To admit that certain acts are evil is to acknowledge that acts of good are required.
Why did God allow that evil person to commit such evil against a good person, we ask? This is a great question and it puts us on the right course.
Think about it: if God were to choose the times He intervenes He would be overriding human free will. We don’t want a god that can override human will and force us to love and serve Him. When God begins to pick and choose when to override human free, then how can we trust a god that might change His mind? This God that we trust, who can at any moment, intervene and change us without our consent is now a god that cannot be fully trusted.
We want a patient God. We want a consistent God. We want a loving, faithful, forgiving God. Not a god that all of a sudden decides to change his mind and end our life, cease to love us, choose to be done with us and so on.
Human nature is corrupt and in need of redemption – not education, or socialization. We need a Savior not a theory.
Understanding this, what is a Christian’s response to the human condition?
1 – Deny Self. The answer to naturalism, the emphasis on self and self-rights, is to deny self. Jesus prayed this confession, “Not my will Lord, but your will be done.” The answer is not more freedoms for personal expressions of how I feel; the answer is a person other than me, a Savior, Christ the Lord. The one time that God stepped into human history was to offer a way out of the depraved human condition. His was not judgment upon us; we were already doomed (left to ourselves we prove this – we are not getting better). God offering His Son, Jesus, is the answer to self.
2 – Follow Christ. This is how God designed it, that we would choose to follow Him. God will never force anyone to choose Him. In our fallen state in a fallen world there is no other way of redemption. God offers His Son but we must choose Him.
3- Practice the One Another’s. This is one of the greatest and most simple teachings of Christianity. In following Christ we are called to “deny ourselves.” The denial of self opens the door to “follow Christ.” When we follow Christ we see life the way He sees it. The Bible tells us that Jesus had compassion on the people; He saw them as they were, without a Savior. When we follow Christ we will begin to see the human condition through eyes of compassion. I do not wish acts of terrorism, violence and hate on anyone, but when they happen I understand that this is why I am on Earth – to see the human condition with eyes of compassion.
Acts of terrorism, violence and hatred shock me, yes, but they do not surprise me. What else do you expect from a depraved, wicked, sinful nature. People need to be redeemed from themselves so they can see the human condition through eyes of compassion.
The Bible refers to this as the “one another’s.” In several passages in the New Testament we read statements like this: love, encourage, accept, support, forgive one another. Over 59 times from Mark to Thessalonians we read of these one another expressions. These acts are the total opposite of our human nature. The acts in and of themselves, like Random Acts of Kindness, are not the answer. Our redemption in Christ is the root of these expressions. As Christians, we see our lives as redeemed by God. This redemption forever alters our view of God, self and others. As redeemed people we are burdened with the hope that others receive the same redemption.
4 – Live Out the Great Commission. Our “one another” acts of love and service afford us the opportunity to share the hope of new life in Christ. Living out our faith in practical ways every day will open the door for us to tell our own story of redemption. Our story of redemption is a message of forgiveness, reconciliation, hope, and peace.
Our story of redemption is the introduction to a Savior who came to save us from ourselves.
This is why we are here; this is how Christians respond. We are placed and left on this earth for this very reason. Our moral boundary, captured by God’s grace, gives us a moral burden to share hope in Christ. The carrying out of the Great Commission shares the message of hope, love, faith, repentance, and salvation in Christ. This is why we are here!
There is no other group of people uniquely redeemed to speak life and hope into a hopeless situation.