For My Fellow Christians: A Call to Share God's Love in Tragedy

"God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad." ~ C.S. Lewis
This past week, we had two horrendous shootings in El Paso and Dayton. It saddens me to think of the evil that people can inflict on each other. Sometimes they do it in the name of religion, but there are multiple reasons (illogical though they may be) for someone to shoot someone, blow someone up or drive a car into a crowd that have nothing to do with religion; rather, they have to do with our sinful nature.

Some will ask “where was God” during these events. That is the problem of evil in a nutshell. How can a perfectly loving, all-powerful God allow someone to hurt and kill innocent people?

As I have written previously, the intellectual problem of evil has long ago been solved. C.S. Lewis’ quote, above, is a very simple but wholly rational answer. If God created us to truly have free will, He has given us the power to choose to do both good and evil. To only permit people to do good things is not truly free will.

Also, one has to think about evil and the carnage it can cause in the bigger picture presented by the Bible. This life is not the all-in-all. We are all going to die someday, and this life presents only a sliver of the eternity of joy that is available to all. So, when people die, even young children, by the brutal act of an evil person, in God’s view the victim's true, eternal life has just begun. This also is simple but wholly rational.

The Bible also offers an answer for those who believe that there will be no justice for the perpetrators of these horrendous acts. God will ultimately judge and his judgement is perfect. There is nothing that is hidden from God. There will be no legal loopholes that will allow the guilty to escape punishment. There is a price to pay for sin, and Christ has indicated that there are sins that will be judged more harshly in heaven. The only thing that may prevent this is God’s unbounded grace, but the shooters will need to have accepted that forgiveness prior to coming before Him to receive judgement. This, too, is rational.

The Bible also shows that God is not indifferent to this suffering. Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus. Jesus cried out about the suffering that would come on the city of Jerusalem. He loves us so much as to send his Son so that His Grace could truly grant us the joy of salvation in the world to come. Again, this is simple, but wholly rational.

It is the emotional problem that remains. Apologetics blogs like this cannot solve that problem. Reaching a person who is grieving with the truth is not done with blistering logic. It is done with the love and grace that Christ offers the world through the people who believe in Him and proclaim his Good News.

I encourage every Christian who reads this post to put their love into action. Pray, but don’t just say you will pray for someone; that can seem like an empty gesture. If you live in or near El Paso and Dayton, get involved in whatever you can to reach out to the victims – the families and friends of those who died, the people who were shot, and all of those who are now suffering emotionally either from having been there and having witnessed the event, but also those who are suffering vicariously through what they have seen. Actions speak louder than words, and Christians need to be present to help ease the pain. If you don’t live in those areas, think about your own community. Become a force for good by working in the schools or, even better, in places where unloved people need to see that there is something more than politics and hate.

St. Francis of Assisi is attributed with saying, “In everything preach Christ. If necessary, use words.” This is not an invitation to go preach to these people. Rather, it is an invitation to express love for people through action rooted in Christ, and the preaching will be done by what you do. Christians must be the visible presence of the invisible God in the darkest times. It is how we can tangibly show that He is there and He does care.


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