In the past twenty-four hours we have seen an elected official (Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords) shot and fighting for her life. We have seen a federal judge (John M. Roll) murdered and a nine-year-old innocent (Christina-Taylor Green) gunned down as well, and the life of an obviously troubled 20 year old has been ruined. We should remember their names and pray for their families.
There is a deep truth to be grasped when we see this kind of unexplainable tragedy: God is a living God who is intimately involved in every moment of history. That is why I know what the lectionary today tells us is true: God is a righteous judge, and feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:11) Every time a person dies without knowing Christ as Savior God experiences a profound, heart-wrenching loss.
To suggest that God is merely “in his heaven” and somehow has set the Universe in motion and then left us to our own devices is to say there is no God. Isaiah 40:19-20 says, “An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move.”
If God is just “out there” and does not feel pain, anger, indignation, sorrow, and loss when something like this happens, he is no god at all. A God who creates rational, thinking, caring, loving beings must have all those traits in his character. When one of those beings rebels, or though sickness is so twisted that they are unable to control their base passions, the shocking thing about God is that he never ceases to be shocked at their behavior.
We are all rebels. That’s why we are able to become inured to images of war, violence, and even random shootings portrayed on TV. And it was always so. Slavery was so commonplace at one time that most of our forebears, even the ones who opposed it, were not shocked and did not rise up against it. In America, a war had to be fought under the guise of “State’s Rights” in order to cause its eradication. Even then, it would be another hundred years before the law would intervene in any meaningful way to prevent one race from subjugating another under its heel.
But God is not like that. With every new injustice, God is shocked afresh. Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14)
Be assured that God’s heart is not with the political right or the political left. God is not in the camp of the Tea Party or a friend of Libertarians. Those in elective office and journalism who have suggested that yesterday’s shootings were politically inspired ought to be censured with all the judgment we can levy, because that is not what these shootings were “about”. These shootings and all acts of violence are expressions of the depraved heart of man. Be assured: God is shocked at what happened in Arizona.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. “ (Psalm 1)