I dislike the idea of commenting on everything that happens, especially when the facts behind an event are often so slow in revealing themselves. The Boston Marathon bombing is one such event, an important and tragic one to be sure, but what is there to say now to shed any real light on the circumstances leading up to and following such horrific circumstances?
I have, however, recently read an article by Bob Russell1 that does indeed make some good points worth sharing; along with some thoughts of my own. In it Mr. Russell notes several Biblical principles he believes speak to the threat of terrorism and the future of America; prefacing his comments with the question, “What motivates young men that were described as… the kind of kids that made neighbors feel comfortable, to viciously kill and maim innocent people?”
First off, we must realize that senseless violence has occurred, is occurring and will continue to occur until Christ returns; such is the nature of man. Without something outside ourselves to help govern our actions, we are all capable of the most despicable acts. When that outside influence reinforces violent reactions to those who disagree with us, violence can become cloaked in respectability and idealistic responsibility.
Solomon rather depressingly noted that, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 And while that is somewhat true, surely we can guard our hearts and change our minds in Christ enough to alter the march of time and events in a positive way. C.S. Lewis believing that we don’t really need to be taught new ideas so much as to be reminded of old truths.2
To begin with, the human heart is sinful and naturally gravitates to wickedness. The Bible identifying the “heart” or our carnal nature as “…deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. (KJ) or beyond cure.” (NIV) That nature revealing itself at the very start of creation in Adam and Eve’s willfulness, perpetuating itself in Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. Jesus characterizing those who, “…have no room for my word.” as having another “father”, “…the devil… (who was) a murderer from the beginning… (who) when he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:37-44
Paul declaring that, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace, the sinful mind is hostile to God. (Because) It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Romans 8:5-7 The actions of the Tsarnaev brothers graphically prove this point. The outcomes likewise testifying to the truth of Galatians 6:7,8 “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction;…” Some reporting that even though decent appearing, the brothers were known to smoke pot, view pornography and play violent video games. None of which – by themselves – driving anyone to murder and mayhem, but combined with other influences and stressors – who knows? One poet writing, “Two natures beat within my breast, one is foul, the other blessed. The one I love, the one I hate. The one I feed will dominate.”3 King Solomon succinctly observing, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 (KJ)
Liberal society demands that all religion be viewed as equal; in insight, truth, validity and effect. Jesus warning, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15 Paul equally cautioning us against “…deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” (or false religion) Characterizing them as followers of Satan, who “…masquerades as an angel of light.” 2Cor. 11:13,14Jesus unequivocally claiming to be, “…the way and the truth and the life. No one com(ing) to the father except through me.” John 14:6
It’s been suggested the Tsarneav’s may have been indoctrinated, either in a visit to Russia or here in America via the internet; where under the guise of religious zeal, extremists teach fledging extremists to kill, steal, subvert and destroy. Proverbs 19:2 describing such people as having, “…zeal without knowledge,…” Beyond that, you have to wonder how much influence a liberal education here in the states, that questions every motive and denigrates every accomplishment the U.S. has achieved over the years, might skew an already confused person’s understanding of who we are and might become. Quick to point out our shortcomings and loathe to credit our accomplishments, they mistakenly fail to acknowledge the transcendent principles our country was founded on and aspires to. They inappropriately view God from their own prism of understanding – creating a more manageable, easier to dismiss – God in their image instead of being recreated in His; which is not a new phenomena. (God chastising the Israelites in Psalm 50:21 for the very same thing. “…you thought I was altogether like you.”) For well over two hundred years America has been a beacon of light – as depicted by the Statue of Liberty, a city on a hill – modeled after Matthew 5:14; lighting the way of truth and championing liberty – however poorly at times. But as John warned, “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
For decades, secularists have made a concerted effort to remake America into a spiritually neutral country, freeing us from the “restrictions” of religion. But in taking a good, hard – honestly objective – look around, you will find few, if any, other countries offering the freedom, stability, opportunities for personal achievement and peace that America does. If the secularists were successful in subverting Christianity, another “religion” would take its place, even if it were only humanism; imposing its values, ethics and ideals. Which begs the question: Does any other religion offer something better than the love of Christ?
Citizens across the country rallied to Boston’s side, our passion for freedom powerfully displayed in a number of ways; inspired by and given practical expression through the Gospel from which our hope truly comes. Americans – and thus America – can, has and does make mistakes; sometimes tragic ones. “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Is. 40:31; and try to do better. And even if the worst case scenario were ever realized, we can take heart with Paul who pointedly asked, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-38 (Echoing Psalm 56:3-11)
The best hope for America is evangelism, a revitalization of who we are and claim to be. A ringing proclamation of, “…we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”! Acts 4:20 Reinforced with a resolve that boldly asserts, “We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5:29 For in truth, the problem of violence is as old as Cain, the solution being as old – or new – as the atoning work of Christ.
1Retired Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
2 & 3 quoted by Mr. Russell
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