Here We Are Again

It’s a disheartening deja vu: Another regime swooping in on a weaker country, wreaking death and destruction.

We grieved over Afghanistan just six months ago. Now we weep with Ukraine.

We who are citizens of the most powerful country on earth are caught helpless in front of our Twitter streams and news broadcasts.

There is so much we don’t know about risks and reasons for our government’s response. History has proved that these things are messy, and the stakes this time are frighteningly high. And we’ve seen the cheering crowds one week call for crucifixion the next.

Here’s what we do know, though. Evil is real, whether it plays out across the globe in Ukraine or in the pornography secretly viewed down the hall.

The cross was a horrifying, bloody affair because evil had infiltrated everything from the altar to the bedroom, ratcheting up the cost to an impossible degree.

We also know that life burst from death’s evil grip to give us the assurance that one day it will end, and there is a way out for all of us, if we will just humble ourselves enough to take it. In the meantime, we have been entrusted with this message of hope and the knowledge that every tear is noticed. Kept.

The pendulum of Christian culture has been resting on the side of love for a long while now. We have been thoroughly catechized in the tender mercies of God, and it has been sweet. But in avoiding the topic of God’s justice, perhaps we have not been adequately equipped for such a time as this.

Perhaps now is the time to form a more holistic understanding of the God we follow. On the edge of a potential third world war, with Russia attacking, China threatening and North Korea launching missiles * it is good to know that the cross has assigned evil an expiration date, and it is closer today than ever.

It is also encouraging to note that the entire New Testament was written to and for a people living under the brutal boot of Rome. People who found in its good news the grace to face persecution and death with courage and even joy. It’s easy to quote inspiring verses while forgetting their dark context. But that darkness makes the words shine out all the brighter.

It is healthy to realize what we’re up against. And also to know which side wins in the end. So don’t despair, Christian, and don’t turn away from the darkness. Instead, lift high the light of hope in a world that sorely needs it.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah 2:2-5

* I speak of threats to the United States, but there are also wars in Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Nigeria, Myanmar, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and others, which are just as frightening for people living in those regions.

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