It's 7 am Christmas Eve and I am 38,000 feet over Alberta. We are on our way to BC to visit family and I am finding myself with the extra time I need to process everything that's been going on in the past weeks.
I will start with the obvious, and I will make by best effort to handle this topic with respect. What I'm talking about is the school shooting in Connecticut. A horrible event by any worldview. When the lives of innocent children are so ruthlessly taken It causes pause for anyone who hears of it, and in today's world of social media there are many ears that hear and hearts that weep. We start to ask questions about good and evil, God and mercy. Questions are quickly directed to church leaders and even individual Christians.
Allow me to take you toa week before the shooting. This is not to draw a parallel but to let you inside my head to better understand the conclusion of this post.
A week or so before the shooting a very good friend of mine was driving past a strip club in Winnipeg. On the sign outside the club was an advertisement for the upcoming customer appreciation days. My friend was livid. He texted me in anger asking what sort of city we live in when strip clubs can be so bold to advertise lewd acts and it's common place, but when our new police chief calls for prayer for our city there is public outrage. My friend is a good man, but in this situation where he found himself overwhelmed he called those customers names like "scum", frankly a lot of people would agree.
Later that day as I read his Facebook post on the same topic I found myself taken back. In my mind I could see my chest split wide open, and there in the core of who I am sat the same horrible desires as those customers walking into strip clubs. In fact, I could see all sorts of evil. See that's what I am, what we are. As I pondered this the next morning I was overwhelmed with grace. I sent my pastor this text needing to tell someone who would understand what was going on in my soul: "The more I ponder grace the smaller big questions become. Why is there so much strife, why must we suffer, the problem of pain, why cancer, why aids, why is there so much bad in the world when God claims to be good. What more can we ask for when our natural inclination is sin? There is no good in us, there is no good to come from this fallen world. The only good is given by the only man untouched by sin." (Excuse any crude grammar or spelling as it was a direct paste from the text).
These thoughts were sitting as a backdrop when I started processing the Connecticut shootings. Anger rose quickly as I started to read Christian commentary on Facebook, that basically at its base was a wagging finger with the message "perhaps if you lived like we told you to this wouldn't have happened". A condescending, morbid, disgusting "we told you so".
I grieve what social media has presented as the Christian response. If I were to preach on this topic my message would be simple. We live on a fallen world. We have since Adam and Eve ate the fruit. Each of us at our core is full of sin, each of us carries in us that seed of rebellion, and that hunger for sin I spoke of earlier. I see it in myself everyday.
Don't assume I am saying that in each of us is the temptation to commit such horrible atrocities, but in each of us lives a sinful heart, Christian or no. Sadly, and tragically, the effects of sin visit us randomly and senselessly through evil in the world. Christian, don't assume we can destroy these evils simply by instating more moral law.
This all ties together for me through Christmas. Our horrible sin and the evil we've seen in the world is why Christmas is so significant. This evil we see, the sin that lives in us has been there since the beginning. It came into the world through Adam. God wiped out man kind in the time of Noah because they had become so evil.
But finally at Christmas hope came to earth. God born as lowly man! This was such a joyous event that when the angel appeared to the shepherds to tell them of the birth of the Christ the sky erupted with an angelic choir singing. Shortly after Jesus was presented at the temple and a man named Simeon saw Jesus and said
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
So far as I know there is nowhere else in scripture where an angelic messenger was accompanied by a choir. We celebrate Christmas because it represents that moment when God's promise of the seed of Abraham became flesh, the seed that was to be a blessing to the whole world. The baby grew to a man, the man died on the cross, rose again, conquering death and sin. And to our hopelessly sinful humanity he offers us his own righteousness so we might spend eternity with him.
Christmas was the long awaited exhale of a creation held in suspense over the story of fallen man.
We will always be sinful men, evil will continue to visit us randomly and horribly. But thank God he has not left us abandoned. Celebrate Christmas knowing our wait for the answer to our fall has come. Simeon sums up the joy of Christmas "for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
I will write again soon about the wagging finger of the church as I have much more to say about it.
God bless you, and if you actually read the whole post thank you and feel fee to comment.