This past Monday another act of terrorism reminded us once again of how broken the world really is.* In the months to come, the authorities will investigate and do everything within their power to hold accountable those responsible. While it may give some solace that such criminals will not go unpunished, it won’t make the world a safer and more hospitable place.
In the meantime there have been many prayers lifted up for those directly impacted by the bombing. As prayers were encouraged, I heard the question raised of why God doesn’t do something. That’s a good question but I must say that God is doing something. I just wonder how many people are interested in what God is doing since it calls for our participation.
PARTICIPATING WITH GOD!
The story of the Gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ is God becoming one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. Not only is Jesus crucified for the sins of the world and then raised from death, Jesus also teaches us to live the life we were created for. This life is summed up as the kingdom of God, which is part of the good news Jesus proclaimed (cf. Mk 1:14-15). It’s the life where God reigns and we learn to live as both a blessing to others and a witness of this new life that God is restoring in Jesus Christ.
In the wake of hatred and violence, we must remind ourselves that this kingdom way of life is characterized by the virtue of love. We not only love God but we also love our neighbors, one another, and even our enemies (cf. Matt 5:44; 22:37-40; Mk 12:29-31; Lk 6:27; 10:27; Jn 13:34-35; 15:12-13). We practice love rather than hate, forgiveness rather than keeping record of wrong, pursuing mercy and peace even when others would rather inflict harm and injury. We do this not because it promises to immediately end all acts of evil in this world. Rather, we live this way because it is the only way in which our world, enslaved in darkness, will see the light and learn that there is another way of life it has been created to live.
I know that in the wake of terror, some want vengeance. As sensical as that seems, blood for blood and life for life only begets the brokenness of our world and further exasperates the divisions and animosity that keeps our real enemy, Satan, pleased. What we must remind ourselves of is that Jesus Christ was crucified and has been raised from death. His death and resurrection is the victory which liberates us from the tyranny of sin and death. It’s the promise that no matter what our enemies do to us, we are free to love them as Jesus loves his enemies because there is nothing — not even death — which can defeat us in Christ.
In this way we join with God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and participate in what God is doing which is creating a future kingdom community that has begun breaking into the present. Here in this future kingdom is where love wins because practices such as compassion, forgiveness, mercy, and peace-making become the constant way of life.
IF WE WON’T, THEN WHO?
So let me suggest that the question should not be about why God isn’t doing anything but whether or not we will participate in what God is doing. In the wake of terror, there won’t be any shortage of voices calling for vengeance, demanding answers, and demanding the government. But what shall we do?
What the world needs most is for the church to be what only the church can be, participatory witnesses of what God is doing. If we won’t, then who? And if we won’t, then with every evil act, the world will cry out again asking why God isn’t doing anything.
* This post is a slightly modified version originally published as an article of the same title in Connecting 28 (April 17, 2013), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.