Atrocities. Questions. Answers
The following is the conclusion of my “theological reflection and counseling” in response to human-inflicted atrocities.
These words of Jesus carry perhaps the most meaningful message for us and serve as “the text” for this reflection (from John 14:27): Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
The absolute depths of our “fallen sinful world” flashed before our eyes again as we watched with horror the reports of the shootings in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. We, of course, condemn and grieve these most gruesome acts of sin, and we pray for God’s peace to come in full measure to give help and hope to all who were so adversely affected.
So many questions remain unanswered at this time. And for some questions there will never be answers. But there are good answers to several questions.
Question Three: Why hasn’t God done something about this “fallen sinful world,” these “hideous crimes” and “willful sinful acts?”
Answer: He has.
• And that’s the good news, the Gospel. What happens here in this world is not the final outcome of our human life or existence. The Lord God Almighty has redeemed our world. He has destroyed the power of these “hideous crimes” and “willful sinful acts” to overcome us for eternity.
• This is the purpose of Jesus coming to earth to live and die and rise again — in order to grant the full salvation and restoration we so desperately need. Jesus, God’s full and holy Son, came to earth in order to “buy us back” from sin, death, and the devil. This is the great revelation of The Holy Bible.
• And The Holy Bible is clear in its message: this world is redeemed. It is saved. On the cross and in the empty tomb of Jesus, God has fought and won the ultimate battle with sin, death, and the devil. And not only is “the world” saved, but we, you and I, are redeemed and saved as well. This is the Good News. This is The Gospel Truth.
• And this will all be fully revealed and made obvious to us when Christ returns and brings His perfect and final rule in totality at the end of time. In the meantime, we know that evil might prevail in certain circumstances for certain lengths of time, but that Christ has already accomplished the final victory.
• And so, in the meantime we simply say in faith amid the tragedies of our time, “Maranatha,” which means “Come, Lord Jesus.”
Question: So, where do we go from here? What do we do now, in the meantime?
Answer Four: We trust and pray.
• We trust not in our government; though we have the best form of human government possible; not in our way of life; though we have the best way of life possible. These will ultimately fail us, as good as they are.
• Rather, we trust in God and the peace that only He can give. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.” We can have confidence that this world’s sin and suffering and setbacks are nothing compared to the joys of the eternal life we will have with God and His Son and the Holy Spirit and all the “company of saints in light.”
• Despite tragedies and atrocities, we can move forward, living each day in hope and assurance and even joy. We can celebrate life knowing that our greatest blessings in this life come not from human comforts, but from our spiritual experience of believing in God and in our salvation in Christ, worshipping The One True God, and loving and serving one another in His Name.
• And now we pray for God to transcend the human loss and suffering, and bring His Healing Power and Grace to everyone directly or indirectly affected by this tragedy.
• We pray that, even as bad as this is, that good would come from it; perhaps some might see God’s Light because of this earthly darkness.
• We pray that God will continue to provide those who will respond to such human tragedies — police and fire and military first responders; EMTs, doctors, nurses, and medical facilities.
• We pray that God will raise up pastors and churches that will lift up faith and hope even amid such moments of death and doom.
• And we pray that the world, all the world, might acknowledge The One True God as the Creator and the Redeemer of us all. And that in knowing the One True God, we would be able to face the realities of our earthly existence, both the marvelous good and the unfortunate bad.
Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Kollmeyer is senior pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville. For more info log on at www.princeofpeacefayette.com.