I have been meaning to write an Easter blog for a number of days and had in mind to actually write something today.
That was before I heard the news this morning. Bombs going off in Brussels – bringing death, injury, destruction and fear. What to write exactly in response? I think for all of us reading this, our hearts go out to those impacted by what has happened. Let’s be praying for those caught up in this.
Words seem so inadequate. Yet, I don’t wish to write something about Easter whilst ignoring what has taken place less than 12 hours ago!
Here we are in the 21st Century… the events of Easter happened in the first half of the 1st Century. People, due to all kinds of reasons, can end up doing evil to others. It was true then and it is true now.
All kinds of analysis has been put forward in recent years to explain the increased rise in suicide bombers and groups like IS. This is not the place to discuss such debate and I certainly do not have any expertise in it at all. A number of times though I have read comments online, in which the argument basically says “religion is evil, all religious people are bigoted, get rid of religion!”
Is that the answer though – get rid of all beliefs connected with God?
Many wrong things have been done supposedly ‘for God’ including things connected with Christianity. The ‘crusades’ of western “Christians” is a very obvious example from history and there are up to date examples. That cannot and should not be denied. Yet, it is also true that evil has been perpetrated by those with secular humanist/atheist ideologies – the killing fields of Cambodia is a tragic example.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are all capable of doing wrong. Thankfully, of course, most people do not become brutal killers.
God did not stay remote and distant from this world. He became human – there is real mystery in that and it is quite hard to get our heads around it of course! Christ did not live in a ‘bubble’ away from life realities. Jesus Christ’s life included experiencing:
Poverty, persecution, being a refugee in another country, criticism, intolerance, being subject to religious bigotry, community rejection, injustice, a false trial, torture and a terrible death.
Plus, he worked a normal job, too, for much of his adult life and rubbed shoulders with others in the ups and downs of living, like we all have to.
Yes, there are the records of miracles and profound teaching as Jesus pointed the way for people to be right with God and each other. But ultimately he willingly laid down his life for humanity. He took upon himself the weight and reality of the evil and wrong-doing of people – the Bible uses the word ‘sin’. The type of evil that includes people being so radicalised that they go and do abhorrent, shocking actions like in Brussels today or what is regularly witnessed in places like Iraq.
Good Friday might seem a strange name for a day that remembers Christ’s death through crucifixion. Yet, what He did gets to the real root of the divisions and discord among people. He paid the penalty of sin and broke the need for us to give into its power.
As John records in his Gospel account, on the cross Christ cried out, “It is finished” (John 19:30) Christ has dealt with the ultimate problem in humanity. There is a different way through Him.
How do we respond to something like what has happened in Brussels?
Well, I can’t give a full response to such a question and it would be arrogant and insensitive to imply that I could.
So instead, I suggest a few points/questions:
- Recognise that our words are completely inadequate in so many ways in response to such things.
- If you are reading this and believe in praying, ask the Lord to show you how to pray in response to what has happened today. Including praying for those who mourn, for the injured and for the authorities as they work out their next steps.
- It is not wrong to be angry and upset that it has happened, yet what will you or I do with that?
- I would suggest from Christ’s teachings that working for justice and seeking revenge are not the same thing!
- Don’t give into fear! The Bible is very realistic that things in life happen which can cause us to fear. But there is also the call to bring those fears to the Lord rather than being paralysed or driven by fear in our lives.
- Ask ourselves, what are we doing in our lives to break down walls of misunderstanding and division?
- Think about what Christ did on the cross and reflect on what was that all about. He took on the sin of humanity and took it with Him to the grave. Death was not the final word though – His victory over sin and death was shown in His being raised to life again.
- Christ also pointed to future hope and the rest of the New Testament reflects this too. In the last book of the Bible, we read of a future where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain…” (Revelation 21:4) Such hope is not escapism from reality.
- We are called to express the love of Christ in this world now, in the light of that future hope. For instance, how do we reach out with Christ’s love to Muslim people who can end up feeling that many see them all to blame for what some do supposedly in the name of Islam?
I am going to leave it there. There are so many questions thrown up by something like today. Whatever I write would be an incomplete response. But somehow we need to able to think about Easter in the reality of what happens in the world we live in today. Easter may look back to the 1st Century but it has real 21st Century relevance.
Thanks for reading,