Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bringing Paris (Too) Close to Home

--> The world can be overturned in 32 minutes.

Like you, I watched in utter disbelief Friday night, as the news seemed to be “breaking” every other minute from Paris.  Explosions at the soccer stadium filled with fans.  Shootings at a cafĂ©.  And a concert hall filled with young people held hostage, then executed one by one until the police arrived.

Modern technology allows us to see such things in “real” time.  It’s both a blessing and a curse.  Yes, I want to know what is happening as it happens.  Not sure why, though.  But seeing actual death lying in the streets as it happens…I find that disturbing. 

In the days that have followed the spin masters have been hard at work, seeking to make some sense out of the atrocity.  Blame is cast in every imaginable direction.  Some claim it to be the fault of Western politicians.  In other corners it is the fault of open borders and wholesale immigration.  Or maybe it’s purely religious – whether it is Christianity or Islam, although France is largely a humanist society.  Or its blame is to be put on Israel.  I’ve even read where someone is saying it is a gun control problem! 

But the reality is closer to home.  Much closer.

Human wickedness is found everywhere.  That’s not to say in any way that you or I are guilty of what happened in Paris, or that what takes place regularly in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria and other place on earth where barbarism regularly seems to act in cruelty.  But the ability to live wickedly isn’t far from any of us. 

The same innate sinfulness that possesses the terrorist and drives him to slaughter dwells in every human heart.  It just manifests itself differently.  And of course a person’s worldview comes into play.  The majority of us aren’t driven by our beliefs to destroy those with whom we disagree. 

But what makes me different than the man who strapped on a belt laden with explosives, fully intending to end others’ lives with his own death?

One thing.  Grace.

The God who created us dispenses that grace that changes hearts.  He alone is the source of that kind of grace.  The Bible tells us that it is “…by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.”

“Saved”.  To some nothing more than an old-fashioned term from the vocabulary of a fire and brimstone preacher.  That’s unfortunate.  “Saved” from what?  From ourselves.

You see, it’s our nature that is damaged by our innate sin (rebellion against God) that causes us – you…me…anyone to do wrong.  Your “wrong” might be running a red light while in a hurry to get to work.  Someone else's wrong might be extortion or embezzlement.  For yet another it could be an act of heinous violence that takes life.
God says He has available grace to make the changes necessary in the life of anyone who will put their faith in His Son Jesus.  Those changes are the result of being “saved” by that grace.  It’s not anything I can drum up or produce by any religious efforts on my part.  It’s all about God.

And it’s the only thing that separates me from those deranged killers in Paris.  God’s grace.  That’s it.  That’s a humbling thought.