It's been over two years since I last posted to this blog. I've wanted to post. I've thought about what I might post. I even started writing a post a few weeks ago only to let it go like I was Elsa in Frozen. Other than sermons, I need to be moved in order to write. In other words, I need to be bothered. Last night did the trick.
We've all seen news of America's latest mass shooting. The Inland Regional Center of San Bernardino, California, a long term treatment center for adults with developmental disabilities, happened to have a conference room that happened to be hosting a holiday party for an entirely different agency when it seems an individual left angry, got his wife, dropped his daughter off with grandma, took the time to dress in tactical gear, and returned to open fire killing 14 and injuring even more.
It's pointless. It's senseless. It's horrible and tragic and infuriating and as a country it seems that we are powerless to prevent the next one and we all know there WILL be a next one but this post isn't specifically about that.
It's about the cover of the New York Daily News.
That the publishers created a sensational headline isn't surprising. That's what they do. Actually, nothing about this is surprising but I believe it says so much more than every word on the page combined.
"God isn't fixing this." I understand what they mean. I get it. What we don't need from politicians are words. Words don't save lives or put food on anyone's table. The very phrase, "thoughts and prayers," carries very little weight and most likely means very little prayer is taking place. We elect politicians to govern and to govern is to act.
There are implications, however, to which it is worth drawing attention. The first is the belief that prayer is pointless. Prayer doesn't do anything. It isn't any different from meditation but at least we can respect meditation because no one who meditates is hoping some figment of their imagination will grant their wishes like the genies of old. I respectfully disagree. I believe prayer is action and does accomplish a great deal but even that is ancillary at the moment.
The question I am posing to anyone reading this is what would it look like if God did fix it? What would have to happen for people to believe that God did intervene? Is it that mass shootings don't occur ever again? What about one person shooting another? What about people using guns on foreign soil? Don't invading armies shoot people? What about ISIS? They use guns. Do we need all manifestations of warfare to cease in order to believe that God fixed it? Pardon the phrase particularly this time of year but is it peace on earth? Is that what would convince us that God is real and actively involved in our affairs?
Having posed (many) a question, I now offer a proposition. God fixed it.
The biggest problem that exists is that human beings are infected by sin at their core. Sin is the reason why all these unequivocally awful things happen. We want to be in control. Everyone does. Some of us just want our way so much that we're willing to use violence to get it. War between nations isn't anything more than sin committed writ large. Sin is the problem and God fixed it.
He sent His Son Jesus to live as a human, which He did, flawlessly. He literally lived a perfect life. He was then executed on a Roman cross essentially for sedition but what was happening was that He was paying the penalty for our sin which deserves death. He hung in our place as our substitute. It was supposed to be us on that cross, me and you, but Jesus stepped up and stepped in and when we trust that Christ died for us, we are fixed. Yes we still sin. We still make mistakes some of which are quite severe but we aren't hopelessly broken anymore. We have the ability to follow God and when we do, we stop serving ourselves and the awful begins to disappear. Heaven, which I believe is real, is when sin will be gone once and for all.
That's not what we want though. Don't get me wrong. We want peace but we want it on our own terms. We want God to make things better and respect our decision to live in whatever way we desire because, let's be honest, the fulfillment of desire is in fact the zenith of human existence. We want Him to intervene even if I don't believe He exists. Don't ask me to follow You. Just do what I want. It doesn't work like that.
God fixed THE problem. We apply that solution when we place our trust in Christ and then we apply that solution every day thereafter by relying on Him to make the choices He wants us to make. If that happens, I'm telling you, life will get better.
I do not wish to diminish or make light of yesterday's tragedy. It was horrific. I don't want it to ever happen again and I hope the people tasked to do so will do what can be done but please don't ignore reality. God is real and so is sin. Why does God allow sin? Welcome to a conversation that's been going on since people have been able to think. What I know is that God solved the problem of sin and the solution is trusting in Jesus Christ. I know people don't want to hear that. They want a solution that respects their rights but a relationship with God isn't about my rights. It's about His gift.