While I had planned on continuing my three part series on “Perspectives on Christmas”, today however, I feel a strong desire to address the horrific and utterly tragic shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
One of the dozens of thoughts that has been constantly running through my mind over the past few days is imagining the 20 parents of the children slain in Newtown on Christmas morning in less then a week away. Knowing that for many, their child’s presents have already been purchased, wrapped, and placed with their name, under the tree. Sadly, the parents will never see the excitement on their children’s faces on Christmas morning when they open their gifts. I sincerely pray to God in Heaven that not a single additional parent has to face what these parents will on December 25, 2012.
All of this lends itself to ask, “Why?” Which in times like these is a very valid and appropriate question to ask. I have never been one to discourage people from asking God “why?” simply because numerous men and women in the Bible asked God this very question. Some asked “why” after God asked them to do something extroderonarly big. Some asked “why” after God did not answer their prayers when or how they thought God should. Some asked God “why” after great tragedy either in their nation, city, family, or personally. And some asked this question as well as those all over America and especially in Newton, “why does a good God allow evil?” This question should serve as no surprise to anyone who has studied history. This was one of the main questions the Jews asked of God during the holocaust. The same question all Americans asked after September 11, 2001. The list of examples could go on and on, as well perhaps as the various answers as to why does God allow evil or things to happen that bring us great heartache? I myself am no stranger to asking God this very question numerous times in my own life. At the age of eight, my mother died very unexpecdently and suddenly (I did not even have the opportunity to say good by or that I loved her). However, I believe that through asking questions of “why” we can either choose to embrace God, even when we do not have all the answers, or choose to completely reject Him altogether. While we do not have enough room here to fully discuss and engage in all of these types of issues or questions. I would like address this question with a simple and concise answer.
Perhaps one of the most simplistic answers of “why” would be with another question, “Can we ever make sense of evil?” As a Christian, I firmly believe that God created the world to be a great place and that He created humans to be good as well and to reflect Him (His character and nature). However, man brought sin into the world (in the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis chapter 3). As one reads the Bible (especially the Old Testament) one can not help but clearly understand that the horrific problem of sin only continues to become worse and worse, greater and greater. Until God, because of His overwhelming great love for us, gave His absolute greatest gift of all, in the form of a baby boy born to impoverished parents in a barn in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Even this baby’s very name literately means, “to save people from their sin.” However, this baby did not stay a child but was sent to accomplish one singular mission, to die. The Bible teaches (in the New Testament) Jesus willingly came from God to die in our place, or in other words take our punishment of sin upon Himself, so we could be in right standing with God and have relationship with God both now, in this life, and forevermore, in the life to come!
However, Jesus (in His first coming known which we celebrate as Christmas) did not come to eradicate evil from the entire planet, but rather to provide a way for us, individuals, to have forgiveness and a relationship with God forever. As a Christian I believe the Bible teaches (as ludicrous as it may sound to some) that Jesus will return someday with the singular mission to restore all creation and eradicate evil completely from this earth. If in His first coming He came to provide salvation for individuals, then in His second coming, He will come to banish evil completely. The good news is that ultimately God’s goodness does win over all evil completely and decivisily. While it may not seem comforting at the time of pain and suffering, it should serve as the ultimate comfort that God has conquered all evil! God’s gift, of His only Son, is the gift of hope, peace, love, joy, and most of all, forgiveness. This gift, especially in times of great suffering and pain is found in God alone, not in politics, laws, sports trophies, or bank accounts, for none of these even being to provide the slightest or remotest comfort in times of suffering, loss, tragedy, and pain. No, comfort is found in a relationship with God alone.
While some may ask the question of “why does evil exist?” I would seek to counter that question with this, is it easier to believe that God does not exist altogether and that we should banish any and all symboliance of Him and thereby, extinguishing all hope of evil being punished and God restoring all creation? In this sineracio, true justice does not exist and evil will win over justice every time. Furthermore, this could easily lead to total anarchy, if I will never be held accountable for my actions then I will simply do whatever I desire and could care less about the results. What purpose is there to live for if we live in a world and cosmos where the scales have already been tipped towards evil reigning and raging forever? Certainly, this is no world in which I desire to live! No, as a Christian, I believe the complete opposite of this horrific thought. I believe to the core of my being, deep within my bones, that God does triumph over evil and every human being from all time will someday stand before Him and give an account for their actions, either good or horrific. I would love to be there when the teachers at Sandy Hook Elemtery School who literately gave their lives in sacrifice for their students by willingly standing in front of open gun fire to protect their innocinate children. However, I would hate to be in the room before God when the gunman, (who’s name I refuse to udder from my lips!) who slaughtered the innocent children, the face of evil itself, stands before God.
While perhaps for some it stands difficult to make sense of evil, I would encourage them to look to God and seek to make sense of His goodness, which is abundant and surrounds and engulfs us at every turn. While it may serve difficult to make sense of evil, we can absolutely make sense of God’s goodness!
Conceivably, rather than banishing the 10 Commandments from our schools and public places, we should teach and practice them now more than ever. Perhaps as a culture we should truly be embracing Christ in Christmas this year, rather than seeking to banish Him altogether, for it seems that as a nation, especially in the town of Newton, Connecticut, we need the CHRIST in Christmas this year more then ever!
For me, the tragic events in Newtown only prove and solidify even more that we desperately need a savior greater then ourselves, greater than any politician, greater than any sports figure, greater than any musical artist, greater than our bank accounts, and greater than our own desires, hopes, dreams, and wishes. We desperately need, and have been provided, a savior much greater then anything this world could ever provide. For nothing this world offers rightly deals with the issue at hand, which is evil and sin. For nothing a politician, athlete, career, money, or even other human relationships, can offer will truly fix our broken and utterly messed up world. Only Christ. We have been given the most priceless and valuable gift God has, the Bible says, which is His only Son, Jesus the Christ, so that through His suffering and death, we could have genuine hope, love, joy, and peace, both in this life and in the life to come. This, and this alone, is the greatest gift of Christmas, to clearly understand that what Christmas is all about that is so unique when compared to any other religion, is that in Christianity, God is not removed from Earth, but that God came down from Heaven to Earth to live among us and experience tragedy, suffering, and sorrow Himself.
For the 20 parents in Newton, I would sincerely offer this as comfort on December 25, 2012, please know that even though you may not be able to see your child’s face on Christmas morning, they will be looking on His face on CHRISTmas morning, which is the greatest present anyone could have on Christmas!