“Keep The Bible in One Hand and the Newspaper in the Other” –unknown
As it were–and as it always seems to be–I heard exactly what I needed to hear from the Lord yesterday. And today. And every day… In men’s’ bible study this morning, the lesson (which was merely in sequence by way of our exegesis of the Book of I Peter) spoke directly to me on the week’s horrific events and the inevitable question about faith: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The original intent of the lesson was already the fascinating study of the crucible in which our faith is tested and refined like gold, so the backdrop of current events only further crystallized it for us…
By the week’s events, I am referring to the Charleston church massacre at Emmanuel AME. By all accounts, these were the good guys–the best of the best–who met with unimaginable evil inside a church, and during a prayer service, no less. Why would this happen? How could this happen? If ever we needed people like South Carolina State Senator and Pastor Clementa Pinckney to teach us a lesson in love and mercy, it would be right now.
In the immediate aftermath, the president was quick to assume the press room podium (like he has done fourteen times before) to grandstand and to politicize the tragedy—not to assuage the hurt and urge healing. No. Barack Obama used the moment to narrate, yet, another diatribe about the instrument of death (not the root cause) and his agenda to curtail ownership of said instrument. There was no room in his conjured outrage to address the real problem: the hearts and minds—the very souls—of this increasingly GODless and hostile nation. Let’s be clear, the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham did not include a gun, and moreover, the nutcase du jour in Charleston could have used a homemade bomb too. These events have nothing to do with gun availability. Ask Charlie Hebdo how stricter gun enforcement works to preclude terrorist intent.
Obama’s “Hope & Change” slogan has only given rise to the worst race relations in a generation. Hold on. The first black president has had all of the time in the world (7+ years) to inspire the marginalized and the oppressed to aspire to a better life and to set aside resentments of the past, right?
In reality, how could anyone feel empowered when GOD is relegated to an occasional, gratuitous sidebar at his perfunctory prayer breakfasts and is being removed from all aspects of public life? Hope is absent in this administration’s insistence on secularism, and any spare “change” has been only for the worse. Riots in poor black communities are all too common. Confidence in government, authority, organized religion and law enforcement has never been lower (I won’t even bother to touch foreign relations this time).
The mantra of all secular progressives is one of despair and division. They seek to impose so-called “progressive” changes all across our society without any presumption nor evidence of their success. And, when these uncalculated risks of “progress” are assumed, then the pundits all sit around incredulously, wondering why their GOD-free agenda hasn’t worked.
We hear people in the media–like Don Lemon of CNN–ask about the rumblings of a new race war. Wait, what? Yes, that is what he suggested yesterday: A Race War. Fortunately, that question was posed to a great man of faith (and a sinner, no less, sure), the former SC governor, Mark Sanford. The governor reminded Don Lemon that this attention-seeking and self-serving Judas is an “outlier” and not within the “standard deviation” of society as a whole. To listen to Rachel Maddow fulminate daily is to wait for the sky to fall.
Fortunately, great people of faith in Charleston have modeled the Spirit of GOD in the wake of tremendous horror and sorrow. Fortunately again, agent provocateurs in the business of sensational news coverage and race baiting, purveyors of liberation theology and emancipation, Al Sharpton and the rest of his ilk… they were all outshined by multicolored Christians sharing grace, comfort, love and mercy.
The point is that the Bible is simply the only place in which we can find hope in times like these. The secular, the GODless, the pagans and the scientific communities are all left blank. They cannot compute how these awful acts of evil can continue to beset such an erudite, enlightened and advanced society such as ours. We are not getting better? How can that be?
In reading scripture, this is all crystal clear. From cover-to-cover is an expansive explanation of GOD’s revelation. There is no “Prosperity Gospel.” There is no free pass for the righteous. Suffering, hardship and tests of our mettle are inevitable. Unfortunately, of the greatest people, many of whom have already passed their Earthly tests and were called home, whilst these tribulations for the living continue in earnest. Only the Bible provides us guidance and hope for things eternal, from which we might learn and make sense of why GOD would allow these nine beautiful people in Charleston to perish.
By all accounts, these nine were among the short list, the “A-Team,” of the citizenry we especially need and could use about now. After the Ferguson and Baltimore civil unrest amid their respective Democratic regime’s socioeconomic disasters, there was little reason to think this would be any different. Surely, riots and arson would soon engulf this, the next epicenter of despair. But, wait…
The Charleston community has been hit not once of late, but twice, with major tests of patience and restraint in this latest culture of overly exploited tragedies involving white-on-black crime. A lesser community would have buckled a long time ago, so what is different down here in the oft-maligned South? Charleston, known by some as the “Holy City,” is a place that has been tested and refined by time in the crucible of extreme sociopolitical “heat”—where prayers and songs of worship are still heard, Bibles are still seen, pastors are also Senators, and Church steeples rise above the city to dominate the skyline. GOD is still worshiped and glorified in this community…where, yes, bad things still happen.
Father Reid Hensarling and I had a poignant discussion after his riveting lesson this morning. We evoked memories of other Christian soldiers and martyrs who suffered and died (only seemingly) prematurely. “Only the good die young” is more than a cliché; it is downright axiomatic. From Jesus Christ to his Apostles to men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr. and Clementa Pinckney…all men of great faith who left us too soon for our liking . They were all men from whom we needed so much more and for so much longer than we had them. “Why does GOD do this to us,” we ask. “It’s not fair,” we cry! Why, why, why???
When we assess “fairness,” it is always through a secular lens. We are socialized by the culture to constantly seek fairness in the context of social justice. Liberation theology has no place in the Bible. Egalitarianism and equity can be found nowhere in the Bible. Life is not fair. It’s also “not fair” in the purely worldly sense for Christians neither, despite what Joel Osteen says to the contrary. Life does not get easier—just because you believe. GOD’s grace and mercy is undeserved, lest we forget. As Romans 9:16 reminds us: it does not depend upon human desire or effort, but of GOD’s mercy. The blessed assurance for believers is in the imperishable inheritance we will receive when we are called home to be with the Lord, our GOD, in his glory—and most surely, at the time of his choosing.
We must always show tremendous mercy and grace and rejoice, despite of our circumstances. Praise GOD continuously. If you are wealthy in things of this world, praise GOD. If you are poor, praise GOD. As Romans 9:14 asks, “Is GOD unjust?” Paul goes on to say, “Not at all, for he said to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” GOD is sovereign, and we can rest easy in the fact that we do not have to understand everything that happens in this life. Remember Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth (verses 16-18): “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Treasures in Jars of Clay
…16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
God’s Sovereign Choice
…13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”…
2 Chronicles 19:7
Now let the fear of the LORD be on you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.”
“So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.
proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”
For God does not show favoritism.
But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;
Treasury of Scripture
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Is there unrighteousness?