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Jesus Responds To An Atrocity
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When confronted with suffering and injustice it's easy to react with a mix of grief, pity, moral outrage, and (if among other Christians) an offer to pray. Whether a passenger plane's crashed out of the sky; or yet more Christians have been brutalized or martyred; or even if we face the more ordinary yet tangible suffering of ageing loved ones, the answer we're expected to offer is broadly the same. But how did Jesus respond to an atrocity?
In Luke 13.1-9, Jesus was told that the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, had mixed the blood of some Jewish worshippers, Galileans like Jesus, with their own sacrifices in the Temple. It's easy to imagine the sort of response the audience was expecting: an angry condemnation of the murderous pagan Romans, or perhaps a stirring prophecy to stay strong and see God's mighty deliverance now that the Kingdom of God had arrived.
Instead, Jesus taught that because all have sinned, nobody deserves any better. Whether through human evil or natural disaster, God can choose to end any life He wishes at any instant. Only God's patient quest for human recognition, repentance and fellowship spares any of us for a time while we live out of step with the righteous demands of Almighty God.
Even in our churches today, this view of God is deeply unfashionable. Ask why and you may be told “It's a bit Old Testament.” Never mind that Jesus said it in the New Testament. The grim reality is that in our heart of hearts, “We don't want this man to be our king” (Luke 19.14). We would prefer a supercharged Personal Assistant to help us through life on our own terms.
We've lost sight of the reality of God in general, and of His sovereignty in particular. We have tired of bowing the knee, and we are therefore powerless to invite the world to repent. We don't want to admit that, like the rest of creation, we are God's handiwork and therefore His property. Our lives, our bodies, our goods... none of these things are ultimately our own.
The God who described Himself as a jealous God has bought us at the cost of His Son. Unless and until we see this, we will never know why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1.7); nor will we ever begin to fathom the depths of our sin or the immensity of God's loving, saving might and power. Robert Burns wrote in one of his poems:
“... would some Power the small gift give us
To see ourselves as others see us!”
It's time to ask God to show us something of how He sees us. It's time to pray for the God's eye view of our frail but reborn selves. Then, perhaps, we will repent and see the Kingdom of God draw near as the Holy Spirit falls afresh on us to proclaim the Good News of the All-Conquering Jesus in word and deed.
© 2014 by Christopher Bevis. Although he's been a Christian for many years and an avid reader for even longer, Christopher is a new writer based in the UK who has long-standing friends and contacts in the USA. He can be contacted for matters relating to Christian writing via the Faithwriters.com website.
Christopher shares C.S. Lewis' belief that Jesus (like Aslan) is good but not tame, so he is especially keen to invite fellow Christians to step with him outside their personal comfort zones. He knows from both the Scriptures and repeated personal experience that this is often the Holy Spirit's chosen setting for life-changing spiritual growth.
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