By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS – December 4, 2015) — On the newest edition of Theology Thursday (http://star88.fm/media_theologythursday.asp), my co-hosts and I discussed the recent California shooting in San Bernardino, California. As one can imagine, our hearts were broken for the people, yearning for God’s presence to infuse the lives of those affected by the tragedy. Part of our discussion was on the proper Christian response to evil acts in the world. I encourage you to listen the broadcast to get the entirety of our answers.
After the broadcast, however, I was thinking more about how Christians should respond to suffering and evil. I came up with a short acronym to help us remember. I’m calling it a Theology of Pain.
P—After tragedy strikes, pray. Talk to God about the situation. Lift up those affected, on both sides—if, indeed, there are two sides to the act. Ensure you go to God before you proceed to pronounce opinions.
A—answer. Provide Biblically based answers. Peter reminds us in I Peter 3:15, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” In a day and age when violence is becoming more and more common place, people are asking tough questions: “Where is God in the midst of this violence?” “Why would God allow something like this?” Christians need to find cogent and reasonable answers to give enquiring minds insightful responses. On the topic of violence, suffering, and evil I recommend the following resources:
* If God, Why Evil, Norman Geisler
* The Problem of Pain, C.S Lewis
* Let us Reason, A.E Wilder-Smith
* Why Suffering, Ravi Zacharias
* The End of Christianity, William Dembski
* Hard Questions, Real Answers, William Lane Craig
* War and Peace, Vernard Eller
* Evil and the Justice of God, N.T Wright
I—Invest. Invest your time, talents and resources to help offset acts of evil and violence in our world. Be, as Christ calls, light (Matt. 5:14). When the darkness around us is deep, light the candle of your life. By investing your time or talent, you become candle-bearers, points of light in a world out of whack. Invest with a helpful heart, compassionate care, and a loving life, showing a watching world the love of God in Christ working in and through His people.
N—never back down. Though violence and evil will spew like lava from the depths of the earth, never back down. Stand up for what’s right, seek the justice of God, and pursue righteousness. As Irish statesmen, Edmund Burke, reminds us, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and I add, women) to do nothing.” Don’t be a nothing-doer, but be a ‘never-back-down-er.’ In the end, God has the victory; He will triumph. And as ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Corn. 5:20), help build the kingdom one-brick at a time—one act done in Christ’s name, one life transformed, one cup of water given to the thirsty. None of it will be in vain, and all of it will combat the craftiness of evil in our world. For in the end, God has responded to evil—He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, as a propitiation for the world. It was on Christ’s back that held the cross; and it is on our backs that we have the privilege to proclaim that which He defeated—death, and ultimately all the fiends (evil, pain, destruction, murder, etc.) of that dastardly foe of God.
Pain changes people; let it change you.
To listen to Theology Thursday, click here: (http://star88.fm/media_theologythursday.asp)
Photo captions: 1) Theology Thursday. 2) San Bernardino, CA shoot out. 3) Light a candle. 4) Brian Nixon.
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About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA) and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon
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