Soren Kierkegaard indicated that ‘Life can only be understood backwards (even while it) must be lived forwards. I recognize that Christians view Kierkegaard with a sense of hesitancy and resistance, and rightly so. Yet, there is truth to be considered in that quote. Even for Christians whose unhealthy pasts have been forgiven, they are still used to shape us, instill wisdom, and incline us towards our Lord and Savior. Therefore, I find it reasonable to take the end of the month and look back at some of what has taken place and learn lessons from them.
Like any month, there is much to consider. Even little talked about stories, such as the New York Times denial of God’s sovereignty, Yale Law School’s ability to defend tolerance by being intolerant, and even a Rugby player who was dismissed from his team for discrimination for holding to Christian views are worthy of consideration. But there were some major ones that captured people’s attention this month; personally, I have been removed enough from culture that I don’t feel competent enough to address the Mueller Report that so many people are talking about. Some are caught up in the college admissions scandal involving several celebrities. Finally, much has been said and many have mourned over the destructive fire that brought down the Notre Dame Cathedral that it really does not warrant a response from me. Instead, what I would like to put attention on concerns the bombings in Sri Lanka, which captured attention for killing hundreds on Easter.
Like any major news story with a true impact on human life, we were given a few facts, many opinions, and a short time to grieve before moving on to the next big thing. Little thought and compassion have been expended to consider that people lost their lives in these bombings, there are families grieving, and some who likely lost several people close to them. As celebrities and public officials began the obligatory tweet, Christians responded with fury over the lack of declaration of discrimination against Christians, made more notable by the fact that the attack took place on Easter.
Christians have noted in recent years the increasing lack of response to distinctly Christian crises. Especially problematic for many is the unwillingness to draw attention to discrimination and targeting of those holding to a Christian faith. The frustration is a reasonable response. Therefore, we can understand why people are outraged, but personally I find myself asking, “Is there a better way to respond?”
Admittedly, I struggle with the idea that people are more outraged by how people respond to a particular event than the event itself. What happened in Sri Lanka was a horrific display of sin’s impact in the world that had catastrophic consequences on people, both individually and corporately. Why are we not saddened by this? With that said, before being upset by how people respond to the event, there are at least three responses that we should first consider:
- Cry: The primary response is one of mourning and in a story such as this, we have two major reasons to mourn. The first is over the loss of physical life and the horrendous way by which it was taken from those victims. At a deeper level though, should we not lament the reality in which we live, a reality in which people believe it is justified to target unknowing people and deprive them of their right to live? Should we not lament like David and cry out to God asking, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?” (Psalm 10:1). This is not a questioning of God and his authority, but a simple lament of the influence of sin in our world and its impact.
- Concentrate: Concentrate on the primary issue(s). Paul very clearly explains that all humans have value and dignity, and for this reason he wishes that none should perish apart from the gospel (cf. Romans 9-10). Recognizing this, we bring attention to the people and grieve over the loss of any life, not just Christians. Some stories emerging from the events share of one father who lost a child while his wife was critically wounded or another father who in saving his son had to let the other perish because he could not reach them both. Our imaginations do not permit us to know such depths of agony. After seeing the victims, concentrate on the antagonists and consider the motivations. This will lead to the inevitable discussion about the rationale and will draw attention to the plight of Christians
- Communicate: Finally, we use this as an opportunity to communicate the gospel. There are so many facets to this story to consider including the value of humans, the influence of sin, and the reaction to Christian faithfulness and teaching. Each of those facets though, is only truly realized when they are considered in light of the gospel message. Therefore, while horrendous in nature, these events are opportunities to glorify God by proclaiming his message.
Cry for people, concentrate on the issues, and communicate the gospel should be first reactions.
Is confrontation of those who do little to defend the discrimination against Christians wrong? Absolutely not. In fact, it is right for Christians to continuously defend their faith. Even more, in our culture that mutes any anti-Christian demonstration and denies the theological drive behind every event, we must confront. Yet, in severe situations, like the bombings in Sri Lanka, our first response should not be speaking condemnation towards those responding to the event, but instead speaking against those who initiated the bombings and speaking for those who became victims of the event. Then we move forward and ask “Why are people not considering the anti-Christian attitude?”
If you would like to see more about some of the stories above, here are some quick links. Please note that the inclusion of these links does not mean that I hold to the views or testify to their truthfulness of their content. I am simply offering some information for those who may not be aware, but as always would urge you to reserve judgement until you have done sufficient research yourself (the majority of these links came from Dr. R. Albert Moher as the ones he referenced in his daily podcast, the briefing; if you have questions about a particular story, I would recommend listening to the particular episode of The Briefing for analysis from a Christian worldview) (Click the titles to be taken to that particular article):
- Reverend, You Say the Virgin Birth Is ‘a Bizarre Claim’? (New York Times)
- So Yale Law School endorses anti-religious bigotry now? (USA Today)
- ‘It is our intention to terminate his contract’: Rugby Australia set to sack Israel Folau (Fox Sports)
- Mueller report lays out obstruction evidence against the president (Washington Post)
- Felicity Huffman pleads guilty in college admissions cheating scam; ‘I am ashamed,’ she says (USA Today)
- History Burning Before Our Eyes: The Tragedy of Notre Dame and the Soul of Modern France. (Albert Mohler)
- Sri Lanka blames local Islamist extremist group for Easter bombings that killed 290; U.S. offers FBI assistance in probe (Washington Post)