Earlier this summer, our family made a pilgrimage to the ultimate summer vacation destination, Disneyland. As we navigated the crowds, I noticed a common trait among our fellow mouse-eared tourists. With the exception of a few overstimulated toddlers and stressed-out parents, everyone around us was smiling and laughing. The strangers...
If this is God’s world, how can it be filled with pain and suffering on such a massive scale? How can we connect the words of the angels about “peace on earth” with the reality of conflict and war?
At the inauguration of his public ministry, Jesus announced that he had come to preach good news to the poor, to release the oppressed and proclaim the year of Jubilee in which debts would be cancelled and slaves released. The response?
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. (Luke 4:28)
On another occasion, Jesus healed a man whose hand was paralyzed. The response?
[The Pharisees] were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6:11)
In the region of the Gerasenes, there was a man there who had terrorized the whole community with violence. Christ cast demons out of this man. People in the community saw the man who had plagued them dressed and in his right mind. You would think that these people would ask Jesus to stay and deal with other problems in their community, but Luke records,
All the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave. (Luke 8:37)
This pattern of rejection culminated in the crowd calling for Christ to be crucified. Pilate tried to intervene, but “with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed” (Luke 23:23).
We live in a Christ-rejecting world. He came to his own, and his own did not receive him (John 1:11). That truth from the Bible helps me make sense of the newspaper.
When natural disasters happen, people say, “Why doesn’t God do something about that?” But when he came and calmed the storm, we rejected him. When gunmen terrorize schools, we say, “Why doesn’t God do something about that?” But when he came and cast out demons, we asked him to leave. When we see cancer, we say, “Why doesn’t God do something about that?” But when he came and healed the sick, we rejected him.
He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. But thank God it doesn’t end there.
Yet to all who received him…he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:11-12)
So here’s our position as Christians: We live in a Christ-rejecting world, with all its sin and death, but we belong to a Christ-exalting family, with all its life and joy. Therefore, we experience both the pain of this fallen world and the hope of all who are in Christ.
So in your joy today, be sensitive to the sorrow of others, and where you face discouragement today, lean into the hope that is yours in Christ.