This week a friend of mine named Ben (who Pastors in the Boston area) wrote an opening paragraph to us pastors on a pastors email list that I am on and then included a letter he had written to his church and community. I want to share the introductory paragraph and then the letter he wrote. His words are great words of encouragement that surely will speak to all of us.
After speaking with a friend from the church who was 30 yards from the first bomb explosion, hugging his daughter over a crowd barrier as she finished the race I wrote down a few thoughts. He and I had spent the past few weeks talking about kids, travel, and safety (My oldest is traveling to teach in Turkey this summer)...you quickly realize safety anywhere is an illusion outside of Christ.
Now here is the well written letter to his church and community.
Boston, Bombs, & Belief
Dear Church, friends, and community,
We live in world that is not right...moments like this are painful reminders that our world needs what Jesus Christ brought. Better intelligence, safer cities, more laws, and stronger armies are no substitute for a renovation of the heart. When the reality of a moment like this has finally settled, in our thoughts turn to “what next?” and “how do we respond?”. Here are three ways we can begin:
Pray for justice
The aftermath of moments like this one can bring out the best and worst in all of us. We speak of justice but our spirit craves vengeance. Vengeance is justice gone wild - justice laced with hatred. Justice is right, righteous, and fearsome…and it belongs to God and to the governments He has established.
The Apostle Paul directs us to give our vengeance to God in one chapter - apparently He is good at it - (Rom 12:17-21), and then moments later he speaks of God directing governments to bring the righteous consequences of justice to evildoers (Rom 13:1-7).
Pray for justice, pray for our leaders, and pray for our country as we seek justice.
Live without fear
Terrorism has a singular goal: terror…to exchange our peace and confidence for fear and dread. Our natural reaction is to limit risk, to run from life and living to a safer place…but where is this mythical safe place? A tranquil elementary school, a celebratory finish line, an office tower built of steel and concrete?
While we seek safe places, God reminds us that confidence comes from within: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (1 Timothy 1:7).
If the safest place to be is in the center of God's plan, then the question we should be asking is, “Am I where God wants me?” If you are…stay there, serve others, and spread His love in small acts and bold reminders of the unconditional love of God - love proven once and for all in Jesus Christ.
Resolve to love
Hatred can feel empowering in moments like this. Water cooler moments, Facebook walls, and Twitter feeds are full of bold declarations of resolve. Resolve is good, but let us resolve to love…the rarest of emotions in moments like this.
Jesus famously said “Love your enemies” (Mt 5:44) - a declaration not faded one bit by an enemy's tactics or hatred. Justice and love are not enemies but allies. They validate each other in ways that capitulation and hatred only hope to.
Pray, Live, Love.
As I read Bens article I thought of the video of Francis Chan that speaks to this subject as well.
A video well worth your time to watch