As bullets ring out and bombs go off, whether it be in Paris or an American school, our nation temporarily pauses as we tune in for details, and share our emotions on social media. Twitter and Facebook light up with Christians arguing for a response that fits their political worldview. Some make strong statements about defending our borders or defending our families. Others turn toward a more pacifist or libertarian response, as they point out the government is not the answer.
Oftentimes, in the heat of emotion, we neglect the one response that Christians should constantly turn to—what does God’s inspired Word say on the matter? The Bible is the source for all Truth (John 17:17; Psalm 119:160), so what does the Bible have to say about such tragedies?
We arrogantly believe that we are the first one’s to experience such tragedies—and that somehow our tragedies are worse than all that have come before. This humanistic/narcissistic response is expected from a generation that proudly wears t-shirts declaring that “It’s all about me.” But the reality is tragedies have been present since Eve made the decision to eat of the fruit in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).
During the time Jesus walked the earth there were tragedies just like we experience today. Now there were no 24/7 news agencies to cover the events like we have today, but these events were still well-known enough that all Jesus had to do was reference them to His listeners:
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5).
Jesus’ response was not necessarily what many might expect. He did not spend hours and hours in sympathy, discussing the virtues of those who were tragically killed. He did not spend hours eviscerating Pilate and his wicked actions. Instead, Jesus reminded those around Him that the victims had not suffered this evil and suffering because of something they did—but rather because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. But notice where Jesus did focus His energy. In both instances above He reminded His listens to repent—to get their lives right.
If we were to strip Jesus’ name from that response and simply say that a “Christian’s” response was that people should repent, we would quickly be labeled as cold-hearted or judgmental. However, nothing could be further from the truth in the case of Jesus. Jesus cared so much about people’s souls that He wanted to make sure they were prepared to meet His Father. Jesus’ message was one of repentance—changing one’s life to walk in accordance with God!
Some have seen the horrible images of blood spread all over the floor of the theater in Paris. Sadly, this will not be the last time blood is spilt and lives are cut short. But thankfully, there was blood shed roughly 2000 years ago that gives everyone hope.
While much energy will be expended on how we stop the shooters, maybe we should redirect our attention on the souls of those in Paris (or wherever tragedy strikes), and instead demonstrate the love and concern Jesus had for souls. What this world desperately needs is not a solution to guns or fighting, but it needs the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ—both the victims and the shooters. For without that blood that was shed no one would have hope.
By Brad Harrub, Ph.D.