View RSS Feed
Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
Three violent tragedies occurred this week, two of which hold the headlines, another barely mentioned in the media. Everyone knows of the Navy Yard shooting and the Nairobi Mall terror attack, but few realize a third mass murder took place in Pakistan last Sunday. 81 Christians were killed and 131 others were wounded when two Taliban suicide bombers triggered their bombs inside the historic All Saints Church in Peshawar just as the 400 worshippers were sharing the greeting. It was the deadliest attack ever on Christians in modern Pakistan.
The appalling shock of such events can push us in any number of directions. Some become numb. Others take measures to defend themselves or mount campaigns to fight the disease of violence, certainly understandable responses. Still others give in to despair. But there is another way to face this world and its problems, as Eric Metaxas so ably points out in today’s Breakpoint. I hope that it encourages you.
Hope, Our Only Offer: The Gospel in Times of Tragedy
Breakpoint, with Eric Metaxas, September 25, 2013. Reposted by permission.
Another month, another shooting. What does the Gospel have to offer in the face of tragedy?
On Monday, September 16th a disturbed thirty-four year-old named Aaron Alexis entered the Washington Navy Yard and opened fire. By the time the shooting was over, thirteen people, including Alexis, were dead.
In the aftermath, the discussions focused on guns, mental illness, and security at military facilities. But for many of us, what happened that morning was yet another reminder of the fragility and seeming senselessness of life.
Here at BreakPoint, these are far from academic issues. We have friends and neighbors who work at the Navy Yard. And one of our number is grieving the loss of a church member who was killed that tragic morning.
What Christians have to offer is not better policies. What we have to offer is something far more precious: genuine hope.
Christian hope is not optimism, which is merely a way of seeing things. And it certainly isn’t “positive thinking” or any such pablum.
Christian hope is the conviction that God is not done with His creation but, on the contrary, has begun the process of setting things right. It is the conviction that because of Jesus’ triumph over sin, death and Hell, the process of restoration is under way.
I know it's difficult to perceive God at work when so much seems to have gone so wrong.
The author of Hebrews also understood that. After writing that God had put “everything in subjection to him,” that is Jesus, he acknowledged that “at present we do not see all things subject to him.” (Hebrews 2:5-9).
Then came five of the most glorious words in Scripture: “but we do see Jesus.” The Jesus, who “for the sake of the joy that lay before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and [who] has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
The “joy that lay before him” was the source of Jesus’ hope, and it’s meant to be the source of ours. It’s why Paul told the Romans that “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).
In his tremendous book, “Christ the Tiger,” my friend and theologian Thomas Howard provides a powerful glimpse of that glory. In the manner of a prophet assuming God’s voice, he writes, “I tell you of the world for which this world groans and toward which it strains. I tell you that beyond the awful borders imposed by time and space and contingency, there lies what you seek. I announce to you life instead of mere existence, freedom instead of frustration, justice instead of compensation.”
What then follows is the substance of Christian hope, secured by Jesus’ victory over sin, death and Hell itself:
“Behold I make all things new . . . I restore the years that the locusts and worms have eaten. I restore the years you have drooped away upon your crutches and in your wheel-chair. I restore the symphonies and operas which your deaf ears have never heard, and the snowy massif your blind eyes have never seen, and the freedom lost to you through plunder . . . and I restore the good which your own foolish mistakes have cheated you of.”
That is hope. It will not undo the pain and suffering, but it insists that the sufferings of this world will not have the final word.
This assurance, more than policy, is what people need. And it’s what we have to offer.
If you’re interested in Thomas Howard’s tremendous book “Christ the Tiger,” we have it for you at our online bookstore at BreakPoint.org.
And please, be sure to check out BreakPoint at Facebook.