What is the Christian response to the brokenness we see in our world today? This past week we have seen example after example of the brokenness of our society—death, murder, suicide, hatred, disease, war, and division—all point to how something is not right with our world. This week I was personally engaged in seeing just how broken things have gotten.
Taking in the “data” streaming to us daily is overwhelming evidence of just how far from God’s original plan our world has slipped. With all compassion, allow me to illustrate by sharing just two minutes of the scroll at the bottom of a local TV newscast:
- “2 HSE teachers died in homicide – suicide, police say”
- “IPS employee returns to school after domestic battery, strangulation charges”
- “Three killed in northeast side crash”
- “Coroner identifies 19-year-old found shot in car”
If I would do the same thing with a national newscast it would, even more obviously, make my point that that something is broken beyond all reason. For example, just this morning (Saturday) the news broke of the man who entered a Pittsburgh Synagogue and shot several people. The brokenness is self-evident, but how can we as Christ-followers respond?
HOW DO WE RESPOND TO BROKENNESS?
- Missing That We Are Not Living According To God’s Original Plan. God placed humans in a perfect environment, free of sin, sickness, and suffering. Everything was provided to fully enjoy our Creator and His creation. But rebellion against God resulted in, not only a fallen humanity, but a fallen creation as well. All creation felt the consequences of sin—our rebellion.
For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:19–22).
- Misjudging the Character of God. J. I. Packer in his bookKnowing God states, “Misunderstanding what the Bible means when it says that God is love (see 1 John 4:8-10), they think that God intends a trouble-free life for all, irrespective of their moral and spiritual state, and hence they conclude that anything painful and upsetting (illness, accident, injury, loss of job, the suffering of a loved one) indicates either that God’s wisdom, or power, or both, have broken down, or that God, after all, does not exist.” Anytime we doubt God’s goodness or God’s love we are failing to properly understand God. He is neither inept nor aloof.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).
- Misunderstanding God’s Purposes. God has allowed the suffering of a fallen world to cause people to point themselves toward God for deliverance. Some turn toward God in times of troubles, and some turn away from God when tragedy strikes…much to their own detriment. But as C. S. Lewis writes in his book,The Problem of Pain, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
“God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise [to judge evil—see 2 Peter 3:7], as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
- Misplacing Our Hope for the Future. There are so many voices who are suggesting a solution for our dilemma and a remedy for our brokenness. Some suggest political solutions through choosing better leaders. Some offer remedies through new laws. Some look to science in hope of finding new medicines and treatments. But I would offer that our only hope is found in God and His remedy offered through trusting in Jesus Christ.
This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. (Jeremiah 17:5–8).
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
- Misappropriating Our Gifts. We who know the Lord have the obligation to be salt and light. We are to be His hands and feet in the midst of our broken world. We are called to use our gifts to be instruments of God’s grace to bring healing, and redemption. If we are using our gifts in any other way, we are misusing them or misappropriating God’s grace.
“that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13–16).
WHAT WILL YOU DO? The hurt is all around us. We who know the Lord have the message to proclaim and the model to provide. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died and arose to reconcile us back to God.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18–20).
It is the resurrected, glorified Jesus, seated on His throne in heaven who said,
“I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5a).
Onward bringing hope,