Saturday, April 20, 2013

Broken World

In my last post, I wrote about broken people.  I specifically discussed the young men behind the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and the stabbings in Cypress, Texas.  In the time since that post, we have seen more evidence of broken people.  We've seen the two misguided brothers who set off bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon and another fellow decided to send letters laced with Ricin to our president and a couple of senators.  None of these crimes have any commonality of motivation (at least none put forth in the media) or method (gun, knife, bomb and poison).  All have been perpetrated by broken people upon their “neighbors.”  Again, these are broken people committing these acts.

However, in the same time frame, we've seen occurrences that have had much greater human tolls in terms of death and devastation.  There was an earthquake on the Iran/Pakistan border where at least 30 were killed and more were wounded.  A fire led to an explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small town of West, Texas.  There are 14 confirmed dead, as many as 60 missing and possibly dead, and more than 150 wounded.  An earthquake in the Sichuan province of China has just occurred.  They are estimating more than 100 dead and more than 2,000 injured.  These events are happening at nearly all points of the globe.  These are events not caused by malicious acts, though they are investigation the fertilizer plant explosion.  These are events that happen in a broken, fallen world.

In so many ways, our world is beautiful and awe inspiring.  Look at the sunset over the ocean.  Go see the Grand Canyon.  Watch a deer timidly come out of the protection of the woods to look for its breakfast in a field.  See the wonder of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).  All can be beautiful, heart warming and amazing.  However, someone may be drowning in the ocean over which the beautiful sunset is occurring.  A flood from a river carving a beautiful canyon can destroy lives and property.  That deer may be attacked at any moment by a mountain lion.  The Aurora Borealis is just a symptom of the radioactive attack of the sun on the earth.  There truly are two sides to every coin. 

I do not believe that this is what God truly wanted for us.  In the beginning, He made a beautiful place for His children.  He made it as lovingly and as caringly as he made them.  He wanted to be able to spend time with them in a place of beauty and majesty, and He wanted them to be able to feel safe with them.  However, God wanted us to freely make the choice to love Him and be with Him there.  He gave us the option.  When we (and I refuse to throw Eve, or women in general, under the bus here: we all make the same choice in our lives) chose to look for our fulfillment outside of Him, he pushed us out of his “throne room” with regret.  The broken world we all suffer came about as a consequence of the choices we make.  Man’s rejection of the Father broke his heart and caused the breaking of man and the world.

At this point, it would be easy to blame God.  “He is so mean.”  “Why would a loving God allow these things to happen.”  “If God is all-knowing, he should have known we would break his heart and force his hand.”  “Why can’t God just forgive us and fix all of the wrongs in this world.”  But, you see, God still show us how much he loves us.  He lets us see the beautiful side of the coin.  We get the sunsets, and the beautiful scenery.  We get to have lifelong loves and friendships.  We get to know what a joy it is to hold our child close and hear them say, I love you.”  We have been given so many beautiful things in this broken world.  The brokenness of the world means that we may temporarily lose some or all of these things, but this is where God’s greatest grace comes in.  He gives us the chance to go back into his throne room when our time on this broken world is over.  He loved us so much that he came bodily to this broken and sullied world.  He spent time with us.  He lived for us and then died bodily for us.  He took our sins and burned them for us. 

He has left us with a choice again.  All we have to do is accept His grace.  This choice is so much easier than the last one.  The last choice was an all or nothing choice: perfection forever, or banishment to a broken world.  This choice is so much simpler.  All He wants us to do is accept him.  He will take us, warts and all.  His heart has been broken, but he still wants us.  He loves us so much that he gives us the chance to improve our broken world.  No, we won’t be able to stop the “natural” tragedies.  But we can have such an impact on the broken people.  He has given us the clarion call to be a light on the hill.  We can share Him with others.  We can bring others out of brokenness and into his forgiveness and redemption. 

We will still not be perfect, nor will the people we bring to Him, not while we are still on this broken world.  But we can truly know what it is to be neighbors.  God, in the person of His Son Jesus, was once asked what the greatest commands were.  He said that the first was to love God with all you are.  But He quickly said that the second command was very close in importance.  That command was to love your neighbor as yourself.  When you think about it, this can be an extension of the greatest commandment.  If we love our neighbor as much as we do ourselves, we will want to share God with them.  We will want them to be able to escape this broken world.  If we do that, we've helped someone else follow the greatest commandment.

Please pray for your neighbors.  Yes, I mean the people who live around you.  Get to know them.  Cheer them on in life and learn to love them.  I also mean for you to pray for your neighbors in the broader sense.  Pray for the guy in the cubicle next to you at work.  Pray for your mailman.  Pray for the checkout lady at Walmart.  Pray for the rude person on the customer service line when you call in.  Pray for them and love them.  Remember that they have God’s love and deserve it no more or less than you.  If God loves them, we shouldn't do any less.  Pray for people you disagree with religiously.  Pray for people you disagree with politically.  Pray for people you disagree with philosophically.  Pray for people who root for a different sports team than you do (yes, even the Aggies ;-) ).  I am slowly beginning to find that if I pray for them, I have a harder time being so harsh in my judgment of them.  I hope to find that it will make them easier to love.  It hope it makes me easier to love.  On that note, pray for me when I’m not all I should be.

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