With the explosion of violence over the last few weeks with Paris, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino generating massive amounts of headlines, I felt maybe we should look at what the Bible says is the Christian’s reaction in this broken world.
First of all, surprise should not be our reaction. To say that things are just now starting to get worse is to be ignorant of or to ignore history. During the bulk of humanities 6,000 years of history, the majority of the world’s population has lived in oppressive times. To list the number of manmade atrocities like wars, tyrannical governments, and genocides would be nothing less than depressing and far too time consuming. WWI was supposed to be the war to end all wars and yet WW2 claimed 70 million lives. Abortion statistics alone show that since 1980, 1,357,168,881 babies have been murdered in the womb worldwide. Man’s sin has left death, destruction, pillaging and chaos in its wake. So surprise should not be our reaction. Shock? Horror? Grief? Indignation? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. But surprise that the enemy of our souls is making good on his goal to “steal, kill, and destroy”? No.
How, then, should Christians react to mass killings and senseless murder? What is the right response to acts of terror? What is our stance in regard to refugees from countries who are beheading people of other faiths?
Christians’ Duality Response
I believe there is a duality to our response. We should be compassionate to the victims and feel heaviness for the souls of the perpetrators of these heinous acts. Martha and I have been memorizing Luke 6, in which Jesus tells us “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” While it may be hard sometimes to out of a heartfelt sincerity to truly wish for the welfare of someone who is deserving of all the weight that the penal system can deliver, the fact is that none of those who are in Christ will ever pay for the sinful acts that we have done. Justice has been done, but not upon us. Christ has paid our debt in full. In that light, we should respond with prayer and forgiveness in our hearts toward the perpetrators, and with compassion and shared sorrow with the victims — (Romans 12:15) “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
The other side of the Christian heart should be a longing and a crying out for God to come and judge justly. I believe the imprecatory Psalms are there to help balance this out. David, seeing the wickedness around him, is infuriated because men are bowing before dead idols, children are being sacrificed to false gods, and the wicked seem to be prospering as they swallow up the weak. He’s praying and longing for the justice of God’s wrath to bring it to an end: (Psalms 7:6) “Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.” In Revelation6:10, the martyrs in heaven cry out “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
God has a dual reality in His feelings toward this unrighteous world and it’s system. Read Ezekiel 33:1-20 where God declares that He “has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” Here God is declaring that He does not enjoy meting out judgment, but yet they refuse to turn.
Verses calling for God’s justice and speaking of God’s wrath are often hard to swallow — not because we have trouble understanding them, but because we are living in a world that is losing its moral compass and the concept of sin today has become vague and subjective, even nonexistent. But if God is righteous, He must judge evil in every form and every degree. Holiness requires its day in court.
Men have need to beware lest in pity for the sinner they condone the sin,
or relax the struggle against evil.
A. F. Kirkpatrick
We must show unconditional love, exhibit mercy, extend compassion, and demonstrate the gospel of grace with every fiber of our being. However, we must equally desire the demise of sin and evil, the vindication of God’s righteousness and justice, and the culmination of all that we are promised at the return of Christ.
May we find the balance and clarity of thought that we need in these times so that we can make a difference for the kingdom of our Lord. May He come in fire and judgment to make all things right (Isaiah 66:15-16), but while we wait, may we do as Jude says and “save others by snatching them from the fire.”
Miles & Martha Pike
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