We are a nation torn asunder, a house divided, and we are at war.
We are at war with terrorism.
We are at war among the classes.
We are at war between the races.
We are at war within ourselves.
Whether these wars are perceived or actual, they are raging in our midst.
Beneath the surface of it all, though, a greater and more violent war rages on. It is the war that drives every other war that we see with our eyes and feel with our hearts. It is a war that goes much deeper than our physical lives; it is the war for our eternal souls.
“It doesn’t matter!” says the world.
“It doesn’t exist!” says the scholar.
“It isn’t relevant!” says the postmodernist.
“It isn’t fair!” says the millennial.
But at the end of the day, if this war is real, these are just words that leave the mouth and blow away with the wind. If this war exists, then no amount of doubt can “unbelieve" this war away.
With any war and with any strife in this life, tragedy is a sure consequence. Though the tragedies of our day are unique to our time, the truth of the matter remains that tragedy has historically always been with us, and until the world is made right once more, tragedies will continue to be woven throughout the fabric of this life. We are bound by the constraints of time in a world that waits to see the end of its struggle.
And what are we to do with this seemingly hopeless reality?
On a hilltop long ago, Jesus was asked about the senseless tragedies of His time. As He spoke to a crowd, some of the people brought up two current events to Jesus, both incomprehensible to the families who lost loved ones. The first tragedy, a massacre. The ruling governing official, Pontius Pilate, had slaughtered Galileans while they offered sacrifices, mixing their blood with the blood of their offerings. The second tragedy, an accident. A tower in the city of Siloam had tumbled over, crushing 18 people who were innocent bystanders in the right place at the wrong time (Luke 13:1).
The people looked to Jesus that day for answers, for understanding. Did those who perished deserve such deaths? Were they, by chance, more wicked and thereby more deserving of their fates? In His typical manner, Jesus answered their implicit questions with His own:
“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way?” (Luke 13:3)
“Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:4)
And Jesus’ answer was clear: No. Death is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight. Church-going or bar-hopping. None of us will escape physical death. None of us is more or less deserving of death than another, because all of us are sinners.
Yet Jesus’ call was clear: Repent. Sin is our common denominator. Rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight. Church-going or bar-hopping. None of us is better than another, and all of us are gravely in need of the mercy of Christ.
On another hilltop long ago, Jesus gave the final answer to the questions we have. He secured our way for true hope, eternal hope. In the greatest war that has ever been waged, Jesus brought about the beginning of the end. He dealt death a final blow, and with the impending end of this war, we find true hope. Through the sacrifice of His life, Jesus made a way for all to live in Him.
Prejudices run deep; hatred blinds the hearts of men. No amount of blood loss will ever satisfy the anger that fuels the wars of this life. And no matter which side we find ourselves on, no explanation will ever satisfy the pain we feel from loss, the heartache we feel from injustice, or the grief we feel from our current state of affairs. No explanation, that is, except for the call of Christ.
Jesus’ call still rings true throughout our world today: Repent. His call is the most relevant answer in our day, for without His power, there will never be the healing we all so desperately need.
To the one blinded by injustice, He is the just Judge.
To the one bound by addiction, He is the only Savior.
To the one broken by poverty, He is the generous King.
To the one bruised by betrayal, He is the faithful Father.
To the one bleeding from wrongdoing, He is the great Physician.
And to the saints, who already bask in the rich mercies of the Lord, may we genuinely embrace His goodness, and may we generously offer it to others. We are the conduit of His gospel to a sinful and broken world. May we shine His light as we faithfully administer of His grace!