“My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled about this. Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. God decided to give us life through the true message he sent to us. He wanted us to be the most important of all that he created.” – James 1:16-18 (ERV, NRSV)
ISIS: This morning there’s a lot of noise on the Internet about Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels. It’s a horrible situation, and I understand that the point of these atrocities is to unnerve us all, to take away the blanket of security that is the bedrock of life in “the West,” to dismantle the stability we all enjoy so much and take for granted.
The problem with the terrorists’ thinking, the flaw in their grand plan that doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of succeeding, is that these perpetrators of evil fail to understand where our security rests.
SECURITY: Of course – and this is certainly a troubling observation – the same lack of understanding turns out to be true for a huge number of our own citizens; too many people fail to grasp the real foundation of our peace, and in consequence they:
- A) Don’t actually know the peace and security they like to talk about, and
- B) They respond in exactly the way the terrorists want them to respond, playing right into their hands.
“[Our] hope,” Martin Luther writes, “is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Then, in another verse, “When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”
There is no bomb blast in Belgium, no terrorist incident in North Carolina, no coordinated attack in multiple cities, no flying of planes into the World Trade Center, with even the smallest power to disrupt knowing – and living – the peace, promise, and purpose of the faith and the assurance found in Jesus.
But I fear that too many Americans (and Europeans) have almost completely lost touch with the freedom in Christ that makes us truly free. “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (Galatians 5:1).
CRITICAL/EPIC FAIL: What really concerns me is that we are coming close to the time when a critical mass of Americans fail to understand where our hope, our promise, our freedom, and our assurance is found. Many who are vying to lead this country employ rhetoric rooted in:
- “We are saved by accumulating wealth;”
- “We are secure when we kill enough of the other people;”
- “Our hope is found in rejecting the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of teeming shores;”
- “The future is a reality show where the winner – by hook or by crook – takes all.”
However… “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus assured his disciples during Holy Week. “Believe in God, believe also in me…” (John 14:1)
The bottom line is this. We know what we stand on; our security rests on something the terrorists can’t even begin to touch; we are ruled by love, not fear. How? – “because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (1 Timothy 1:12).
Believing – DEREK