Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In the Face of Evil

Atrocities like the one that happened this week on the beaches of Libya (or the countless events like it that regularly fill the headlines) provoke deep instincts within us. We are disturbed, disgusted, and angry. We are fearful and nervous about the future. Inevitably, these events trigger our fight or flight mechanism: we either want to escape the deep darkness of our world, or we want to go to war with it. 
Fear, disgust and anger are natural reactions to 21 people getting beheaded on account of their religion, and we'd be numb (or perhaps sociopathic) to feel otherwise. 

But those emotions, and the escape and conflict they will ultimately inspire us towards, are ones that a follower of Christ is not at liberty to harbor. Feel them we must, but we have to, in the end, land somewhere completely different. 

God loves our world. He loves it with its extremism and its violence. He loves it with its abuse and addiction. He loves it with all its pettiness and arrogance and hate. The world that Christ plunged into, the world he let crucify him, is the very world we live in today. He still loves it, atrocities and all.

And a condition Christ puts upon his would-be disciples is that we must take that yoke of love upon ourselves. Sometimes we create mindsets and theologies that act as if Jesus suffered in the world so that we can take it easy. Our job is to put our faith in him, kick our feet up, and coast into heaven. I can imagine why one might try to arrive at such a worldview, but we have to be honest, open our eyes, and admit that this mentality has no connection to the Kingdom Jesus (or any of the apostles) declared. 

Jesus made it quite clear: He loves the world. This love is not passive- it is radical and all-forgiving. It moved him from heaven into earth, drove him to dive into the lives of broken people, propelled him to the cross. 

Then the says "as the Father sent me, I now send you." "If you would come with me, take up your own cross and follow in my footsteps." "Love, just in the same way I have loved you." "No student is better than his teacher, if they did this to me, they will surely treat you the same way."

We who would claim we follow him must walk as he did. No room for hate. No room for fear. No room for anger. We cannot escape evil, nor are we to oppose it violently. We are to display to this world the reality of a crucified Jesus, a King of self-sacrificing love. 

Is such a thing even possible? Well, as Jesus once answered the disciples, "In human terms of course not, but with God all things are possible." If we are willing, God will transform us. If we confess our need to change our minds and repent, he will meet us. 

Christ commanded the early disciples to go into all the nations, to love and forgive and disciple the very enemies who wanted to kill them. The disciples, frail emotional types like you and I, were incapable of such a feat. Yet they gathered, and prayed, and asked God to change them. And God filled them with power from heaven-power that propelled them with love into a dark, cruel world. And of course, they subsequently turned that world upside-down. 

In the face of beheadings and crucifixions, wars and famines, riots and protests, we must repent of our instincts to fight or flee. We must get on our knees and cry out to our crucified and risen Jesus: "fill me with the power to love like you do." 

1 Comments:

Blogger 14 Beautiful Feet said...

God loves our world. He loves it with its extremism and its violence. He loves it with its abuse and addiction. He loves it with all its pettiness and arrogance and hate. The world that Christ plunged into, the world he let crucify him, is the very world we live in today. He still loves it, atrocities and all."
YES! These words and this blog are SPOT ON! Thank you!

1:02 AM  

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