Once more our news has been dominated by terrorism. Deadly blasts in the middle of Paris, suicide bombings in Beirut and Baghdad, and a foiled attack in Istanbul have all happened in the last few days. Newspapers and webpages are full of crying or bloodied people and speculation as to who and why this is happening.
Of course, analysts of all types will come up with many different views on why this is happening and even more opinions on what might be done in response. And in earthly terms, I am sure that much of this analysis will make sense and have some wisdom to it.
However, those of us who are Christians know why the world is as broken as it is. We know why there is bloodshed and violence and terror and war and famine and disease and death. There might be many different people and variables involved, but it comes down to one big issue: sin. As I said in my previous blog post, all of us are sinners, even the nice ones. All the problems in the world, including the present ones, come down to people living for themselves or something other than God. If it was as easy as passing the right laws or arresting just the few bad people we could fix the problem. But the problem is deeper than that; it lies in the hearts of all of us.
The blog post is not here to try to explain the causes of what we see. My hope is that we can think of how to respond as Christians. It is too easy to change your profile picture on Facebook and feel a little sad yet not think much about how this connects with Jesus.
Firstly, we should be reminded that our life here is temporary. Younger people in particular tend to forget that and live as if we will be on this earth forever. A few days ago in Paris many people died who were simply going to a concert or out for dinner. I could die today in a car accident or some undiagnosed health problem. Jesus deals with this in Luke 13:1-5. Some people came to him to tell him of some unexpected and unjust deaths, some from a falling tower and some due to political oppression. Jesus’ response is direct: he said that these people did not die in this way because they deserved it more. No, one day all will die in some way, and on that day we need to be ready to meet our Maker. Seeing tragedies around us seems to double as entertainment at times; we should take it as a sobering reminder of our temporary and fragile lives here on earth.
And of course, we should then be reminded that our existence doesn’t end when we die. If there is a God, and he will demand an account for our lives, then we should repent and turn to him while there is still time. Jesus offers forgiveness, but the time is limited.
Secondly, we should be deeply saddened. It is right to grieve. It is right to observe that so much about the world is now broken and unfair. Yet again, if this life is the only perspective we have, then these feelings of sorrow and anger can overwhelm us. But if we truly believe that one Day Jesus will come back as the Judge and make all things right, correct all injustices, and bring the guilty to justice, that means we need to do what John the apostle did at the end of Revelation. “Come, Lord Jesus!” Pray for justice now and ultimate justice to come.
Our world is fundamentally broken and full of pain. We know that now more than ever. But this pain is temporary, and the brokenness will one Day be fixed. As Romans 8:22 puts it, the “whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” Christians too groan as the good world God made is damaged and battered by sin. Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus.