Saturday, December 15, 2012

Massacre in Newtown, Connecticut

Let’s imagine that God decided, through some form of supernatural coercion, to force human beings against their will to always obey his law. In other words, imagine that human beings were supernaturally prevented from ever behaving in ways that were violent, immoral, hateful, dishonest, greedy, envious, manipulative, unloving or selfish.  Imagine if we were all required to be generous with our money. Imagine if we were required to set aside one day a week to rest and worship God. Imagine if we were supernaturally prevented from ever giving our own comforts, entertainments, pleasures or pastimes a higher priority than God.

In such a world there would be no murder, rape, robbery, assault, immorality or dishonesty but in such a world there can be no doubt that most people would view God as a micro-managing tyrannical dictator and would hate him with every fiber of their being. They would only worship him out of compulsion, not love.

So God has taken the alternate approach—probably one of the worst things he could have done to us. He lets us have our way, or in Paul’s words, “God gave them up.” God gives us the freedom to gossip, lie, cheat, steal, slander, get drunk, take drugs, fornicate, commit adultery, rape, rob and murder. In other words, he gives us freedom and allows us to suffer the consequences for our sin. Humans then shake their puny fists in God’s face demanding to know why he allows such evil in the world.

But Christianity teaches that God then did the most amazing thing. He became human himself—a fact celebrated in the Christmas season—and entered the world of suffering that we largely created. He allowed himself to be mocked, beaten and tortured—all so he could deliver us from the consequences of our own sin.

At a time when atheists demand to know where God was during the tragedy in Connecticut we should note that if atheism is true there will never, ever be justice for the victims and their families. If atheism is true the parents will never, ever see their children again. There is no hope. There is no real comfort. There is only unfathomable grief and despair. 

The Bible teaches that the gunman will not escape justice, and holds out hope that through Christ the parents could see their children again at a time when “our present sufferings are not worth comparing” with the glory God has for us; a time when “the former things will not be remembered” and God will wipe away all tears (Romans 8:18; Isaiah 65:17; 25:8; Revelation 7:17; 21:4).

Our hope is that the tragedy in Connecticut will ultimately lead people to turn their hearts to God who is able to re-unite parents with their children and turn temporal tragedy into eternal triumph.