These are not the topics I’d like to be writing about, but the recent events worldwide have caused many to wonder what is happening in this world. Terrorism is everywhere – it is no longer limited to the Middle East or Africa where Isis, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have committed atrocities that often don’t make the headlines in America because they are so commonplace. The recent events of Orlando, Florida, Paris, Brussels and just this last weekend in Nice, France brings these threats to our culture closer to home and therefore to our consciousness.
I recently hosted a friend from Jos, Nigeria, Timothy Olonade. In a discussion with a group from my church, one person asked him to compare our life in Pinehurst, NC with his life in Jos, Nigeria. He answered it with two examples that are chilling. The first was that there had been 40 bombings or terrorist attacks in Jos in the last 10 years alone. Not so in Pinehurst. Also, traveling in Nigeria can be dangerous, and Timothy noted that his wife wants him to get a newer car. One of his mentees, a pastor, had his car break down on the side of the road, and he was caught by terrorists who beheaded him. Just traveling from place to place in parts of sub-Saharan Africa is dangerous. In Pinehurst, if you are traveling, your “danger” is how much time it will take to have AAA or a towing service to fix your car roadside or perhaps tow it. You don’t worry about being vulnerable to terrorists. My African friends live with these dangers, and they accept that these dangers are part of life itself. Yet they are undeterred in living life to the fullest even though they live in a dangerous place.
In America, Black Lives Matter movement and the recent arming of the Black Panthers both expresses a rage and anger aimed at those in authority and particularly the police, and indirectly to any whites. The movements reflect deep-seated resentment and prejudice, even though the premise of the Black Lives Matter movement is false. The fiction is that blacks are much less likely to be killed by police than other races (whites or Hispanics), but the movement ignores this and the outrage continues. I watched an angry black leader being interviewed and was struck that his rage was deeper than any single incident. Rage and anger rarely stops to be bothered with facts but instead is driven by emotion. Recent attacks on police in Dallas resulted in 5 white police officers being killed by a black sniper, and this past weekend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, another 3 police officers were killed in a planned ambush by black man. One of those officers killed in Baton Rouge was black which demonstrates that the rage is as much against authority as it is racially motivated.
Both of these ambushes were preceded by what appears to be inappropriate killings of black men by police officers in Minnesota and Baton Rouge the previous week, both of which were caught on video which went viral. Pundits are now suggesting that these attacks on authority and police are just the beginning, and that there will be more of these attacks on authority. If so, we are in for chaos and anarchy in the near term and it saddens me to see a country that is divided and polarized. When one travels anywhere today, you now think in the back of your mind that you don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. To peaceful citizens, fear creeps in. A recent study done at a Christian college, Wheaton College in Illinois, revealed that a majority of their students were now fearful.
Without authority, we sink into chaos and anarchy. So, how does a Christian bring “order” into this chaos? How do we make sense of the senseless acts of terrorists and misguided people who are intent on committing violent acts on any one in authority? Where is the good news in all of this? Romans 8:28 says that there is “good” news in everything and that God makes all things (good or bad) work for good. Well, ironically, these trying times in the world has led to a revival of Christianity in places where only darkness and previously existed. Revival has occurred in countries in the middle east where Christian persecution has been the norm – Iran and Egypt are now experiencing unprecedented growth in Christianity by people who are fed up with Islam, their governments and their circumstances and are looking for spiritual answers to this chaos and anarchy. They are trying to makes sense of the senseless, and turning to Christianity because it provides answers to their fears.
The head of the police department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was spot on when he noted that the attack on police and people in authority is really a “heart” problem. When life is treated as being expendable (either by a twisted religion or by a people group that has no moral boundaries), the problem is clearly the human spirit, and there is only one answer for that – a revival of immense proportions. As Christian, we know these truths – we know that God is sovereign in all of this. We sang the song “Sovereign” this weekend, and the lyrics really resonated with me:
Sovereign in the mountain air, Sovereign on the ocean floor, With me in the calm, With me in the storm; Sovereign in my greatest joy, Sovereign in my deepest cry; With me in the dark, with me at the dawn. In your everlasting arms, all the pieces of my life From beginning to the end, I can trust you; You work everything for good God, whatever comes my way, I will trust you
Last weekend, Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, prayed a prayer for our nation at a church in California which was captured on video. It is a wonderful prayer and worth watching: https://vimeo.com/174267124 Although the prayer is directed at Americans and encourages them to “race toward God”, it applies to all nations where chaos and anarchy exists.
So our challenge is to find goodness in the bad events – to find God in the darkest hours and pray to Him for his deliverance. We also need to pray for a spiritual revival of human hearts to turn toward God in difficult times. Revival is happening in the middle east – it could happen in America, too. Only Christ can provide order in a world of chaos and anarchy.