by Joe Henriques, Tysons Campus Pastor
Deep turbulent emotions welled up in me on hearing of the terrorism at the Boston Marathon, just as it did in you. Grief and compassion for the victims and their families that I’ll never know, deep disgust and anger towards the terrorists whom I never want to know.
The perpetrators responsible for the violence and carnage wanted it well documented; they wanted the world to see. They didn’t care to know that God saw it all. But someday they will be summoned into God’s courtroom, where he is the prosecuting attorney, the witness, and the judge. They will be defenseless against his charge that they violated his nature, his laws, his rule, and his love for people. Then they will experience the wrath of his fury against them for their sins.
I don’t wonder anymore why the Psalmist said, “God…is angry with the wicked every day.” (Psalm 7) God’s anger isn’t a temporary passion. We tend to forget atrocities only because we can’t keep up with the new ones captured by headline news. God has no such problem with memory. Every day he is indignant with the evil he sees in the entire world. Since he sees all of history as if it were the present, he seethes in anger daily against those who have ever committed despicable acts that destroyed the lives of others.
I rejoice in God’s judgment of the wicked. Indeed, without the knowledge of such future judgment, righteousness and justice would have no present meaning.
But it is here where I encounter a different wonder, which I confess I want for myself, but not for the terrorists of the Boston Marathon and the millions of others like them.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will one die for an upright person—though perhaps for a genuinely good person one might actually dare to die. But God demonstrates his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, much more will we be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, will we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:6-11)
In God’s sight, apart from Christ, I stand side by side with terrorists as sinners and enemies of God. I’m not saying that the life that I might have lived had I not believed in Christ would not have been a decent life. I’m saying that in terms of my inherent sinful nature with zero righteousness to offer to God, I’m no better than a terrorist. I’m just as helpless to argue my case for self-goodness before a holy God.
But, Christ died in my place – God’s justice was satisfied. Christ reconciled me to God – I’ve been given Christ’s righteousness. God desires the same for each person in the world, from the best to the worst that the world can offer. The love of Christ constrains me to desire the same.
So, where does that leave us in reference to the Boston Marathon? Let’s start with prayer, an action available to us all. Pray fervently for:
- Law enforcement to find the truth that will lead the perpetrators to justice
- Medical personnel to diagnose and prescribe the right treatment for the wounded
- Clergy and other counselors to have God’s wisdom in the choice of words of hope and therapy for short and long term healing for victims, family members and friends
- The salvation of the persons behind this evil act and all those who support it
- Americans to turn their hearts to the Lord in this time of national disaster
May we, the Lord’s people, proclaim to all around us this inspiration from scripture, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)