Our world isn't safe. It never was....
Soon after the "Fall" in Genesis 3 and the first unspeakable action of Cain killing his brother Abel, the world has been unpredictable, frightening, and filled with painful events that wreck our human sensibilities. The tragic events occurring in Paris France yesterday strike deep unsettling fear into the bravest heart. Questions abound. Rage boils over into action. Investigations are launched and actions are carried out toward the perpetrators. Justice needs to be meted out and someone has to be held accountable.
For followers of Jesus Christ, the described atrocities that occurred in Paris are expected outcomes. Jesus warned his disciples that following Him would bring to them suffering and most probably death. Why would anyone choose to follow a leader who told them these frightening things?
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love
you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That
is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours
also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I
had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse
for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else
did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both
me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
(John 15:18-25 , NIV)
Jesus connected hearts of disciples to the heart of God and helped them see grace and mercy, these eternal valuables that could never be lost.
An influential person in my spiritual formation is Jim Elliot. (Martyred Christian missionary, January 8, 1956) His quote about faith and life was etched on my heart years ago and I find comfort in uttering it on occasion. Elliot once said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." While this quote may not have originated with Elliot, it has shaped an understanding of my life enmeshed with God's grace and mercy.
It isn't likely I'll ever face death in the same way Elliot did. Expending my life for the sake of the Gospel is none the less compelling. It calls me to consider what is to come will be indescribably better than what I currently enjoy. Whatever sufferings I endure here on this broken earth will be erased with glorious and resounding victory in the eternal residence I have awaiting me. Jesus Christ has prepared that place and walks with us through our trials. He understands our sufferings and acknowledges our losses (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Followers of Jesus seek to offer His message of salvation not with weapons and force but with love. We understand Christ came to earth to save the world and not to destroy it (John 3:16-17). For the 'religious' groups that carry out atrocities like Paris, their actions are void of love. Deadly force and fear are their currency for accomplishing the task of defeating enemies of their religion.
If you are feeling fearful this day, take heart and savor the following text from Romans 8. Allow God's Spirit to minister to your fearful soul so that the life you have can be offered as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him. "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Jim Elliot
"Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the
right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For
your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 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 8:34-39, NIV)