The news has seemed loaded down with dark stories these past few months. From girls being kidnapped from their families by Boko Haram to an Ebola outbreak that is ravaging parts of Africa to the systematic slaughter of men, women, and children in Iraq. It is impossible for me to look at events like these, some brought about by nature and some brought about by human nature, and not realize that everything in the created order is still operating in a world cursed by sin. A world falling apart. A world crying out for the completion of the new creation that was inaugurated on the cross.
And that’s exactly where I end up when I see these stories: at the cross. The honest truth, and one that is not unique to me, is that that when horrific things happen in the world I often find myself asking why God would allow these things? Doesn’t he know the hurt and the pain? Why not finish the work started on the cross now? Why wait until after disease, famine, and war have ravaged creation for another two thousand years?
The cross, in all its terrible brutality helps me work through those questions. Why? Because Christians do not serve a distant god. A god unacquainted with the struggles of humanity. Christians serve a God who lived a fully human life and experienced the range of human emotions. A God who loved men and women and saw their bodies ravaged and destroyed by disease. A God who saw his chosen people oppressed, displaced, and persecuted. A God who experienced betrayal. A God who experienced an extreme amount of physical pain. Jesus demonstrated the incredible love and grace of God in his experience of life as a human and in his sacrificial death on a Roman instrument of torture.
This God of extreme sacrificial love gives me hope in a dark world. Hope that he will finish what he started on the cross. Hope that he will one day restore the world to a state of perfection.
But what do we do about evil? The kind of evil that has image bearers of God systematically taking advantage of the weaker image bearers and in the worst cases attempting genocide? Christians are quick to point to our perfectly loving God in any number of situations but God has more than just one dimension. He is also perfectly just. For some reason we shy away from this image of God which is clearly presented in Scripture. But when indescribable evil happens in the world, evil that no human court can adequately judge, the image of the perfectly just God is a sobering reminder that while Jesus is called the Lamb of God he is also called the Lion of Judah.
From Revelation 19:11-16
11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
To paraphrase from C.S. Lewis: Jesus is good but he is not tame and in a broken world we can be thankful that is the case.