Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Do Christians Do With Terrorist Bombers?

Revved up emotion! Rage! Revenge! These are the natural emotions that flow forth from us as humans when we see and respond to a situation such as the Boston Marathon bombings. I will admit that when I heard what had happened I was enraged and devastated at the same time and asked the SAME question everyone else was asking, "Why would anyone do this? What purpose could it truly serve?" I will also admit I had thoughts of what should be done to those responsible, even when we had NO idea who that may be (and those thoughts were NOT nice or even civilized). However, as a believer, I am bound to Scripture and to obedience to what Scripture says and its instruction for my life. I know that I am flawed and I am tempted to fall prey to emotion... to rage... to the need for vengeance, but this is NOT our calling as Christians. Scripture tells us that we are not to cast judgment, but that we are to be reconcilers. NOW what does that mean?

When Scripture tells us (in Matt 7:1-2) that we are not to judge others, it is not telling us that we cannot hold others accountable to our laws. It is NOT saying that we should not be able to look at the fruits of a person's life and make a judgment about them. What Scripture means there is that we have NO authority to judge a person's eternal destiny, that is God's authority and God's alone. So the Scriptural account we, as believers, are bound to is NOT about our restriction from holding others accountable to civil law and moral behavior, it is solely about our inability to judge a person's eternal fate. So when we have a case such as this, or any other case where suspects have been charged and evidence is present for their guilt, we can hold them accountable.

Scripture also calls us to obey the laws of our land and respect the authority God has placed or has allowed to come over us (Rom 13:1-7). In this case, this remaining suspect, as despicable as his act was, is afforded by the laws of our land, a trial by a jury of his peers and due process of law and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Now we have video and anecdotal evidence of the suspect's guilt, but until a court of law pronounces this American citizen guilty, he is not. These are our laws and we must abide within them.

As believers this is our calling, to cling to Scripture and be obedient to God's instruction for how we live and interact within our world and society. Sometimes what God calls us to do (in fact MANY times) is something that goes entirely against our human nature and desires. I understand the want and need for justice in such a heinous crime, but our laws are clear in this matter. Our laws, when used and put into practice keep our society safe, but when we react in vengeance and rage, and allow our laws and civility to be thrown aside in a moment of reactive anger, we become like those we are prosecuting. Let us hold our heads up as believers, let us hold our heads up as Americans and let us do the right thing...let us follow the law of our land.

Now as a pastor, I would be remiss in saying that our focus, as believers, is simply being a good citizen and law abiding. Our focus includes those things, but it is NOT the central focus of our lives. We are called to make disciples and to share the love of Christ in our lives (Matt 28:18-20). Christ on the cross looked to His side and forgave a murderous thief who did NOT deserve His forgiveness and love... But he received it! Believers, we must pray for this man who has been accused of this heinous crime, pray for his family and pray for his eternal soul. Pray for his salvation and that Christ would be made evident and unavoidable in his life and mind and that the Holy Spirit would overshadow his life, his family, this situation and his heart. Pray for God to be glorified in this very terrible circumstance... that is our true calling!

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