I find that being knowledgable about what goes on around the world makes me uncomfortable. I would be happy to stay in the realm of local news, where bad news amounts to the occasional car accident, the weather continue to calls for more snow . . . Again. And once in a while something crazy happens like a man with a warrant out for his arrest is taken into custody after a non-violent standoff.
Out here in middle America bad news can start to lull us into the concept of “evil-lite”. I understand that theologically, evil is evil. Stealing is sinful whether it is a pack of gum, or a mutlimillion dollar embezzlement scheme.
But once in a while, something happens in the news that turns my head. It is a pound the table, head shaking, disbelief kind of evil. There is occasionally a news story that cuts to the heart of the theology of every single human, even those who may boast in their own atheology.
This past week a man was burned alive in a cage while someone stood by with a camera. And this video was uploaded for the world to see. Evil. No other word suffices. Demonic, Satanic, depraved evil.
There is an animalistic reality to this act that betrays a category that many in the world desire to avoid. But when we are brought face to face with the reality of sin by this devastating inhumanity of humanity, how will we cope? How can we process this event?
Is the hope that those who committed this act will be brought to justice? Maybe they will be arrested and brought to trial and found guilty they would spend the rest of their lives incarcerated? Maybe they would be sentenced to death. And would any of that be justice?
But the Christian worldview holds out hope. And the hope is that evil doesn’t get the last word. There is a final judgment, but my hope doesn’t ultimately rest there. Because as real as stark and devastating evil is in the many headlines about the Jordanian pilot’s nightmarish demise, sin is just as real in my own heart. I am grateful that it is lesser by degrees and nobody would ever suggest that stealing a pack of gum is morally equivalent to burning a man alive, and yet that stark evil forces me to deal with the reality of the human problem. My problem.
This place is BUSTED! Broken. decaying. faltering . . . Technology has not improved our morality. It has merely accelerated the communication of evil. Democracy has not improved morality . . . It has made safe places for “lesser evils” to feel good about depravity.
But Jesus has divided humanity. And it is not on the scale of moral to immoral. We are not graded on the curve. We either come to God by accepting the grace available through the tragic and brutal death of Jesus on the cross, or we try some other way. But forgiveness, remedy, hope, purpose, and a new life of doing good, is available to anyone who would come to Jesus in humility acknowledging the evil in their own heart.
Some headlines make me want to raise my hands to heaven and say, “How Long, oh Lord! How long until you come back and set these wrongs right? How long until you set your people free and redeem this sin cursed world?” And the answer comes in the compassion of the Almighty . . . “Just a little while longer . . . Until my mercy reaches more.”