Monday, January 31, 2011

Fielding the Hard Questions...

Today is a stunningly beautiful day here in Florida. It's going to be 75 and sunny again, with a light breeze. I just returned from walking the dog and neither one of us really wanted to come back inside - it's that nice out there.

I'm not sharing this weather info in order to make non-Florida-dwellers jealous, but rather as a backdrop to the sense of heaviness that is on our hearts here around Tampa today, something even a beautiful day cannot erase. It was the topic of conversation in my Sunday morning study-group, and it will doubtless take a lot of our time at my small group this evening.

What I'm talking about is the unthinkable murder of two teenage children in Tampa Palms this weekend. They were killed by their own mother, 50-year-old Julie Schenecker (Her husband works out of the same CentCom office as one of my friends). First, on the way home from soccer practice, she shot her 13-year-old son, Beau, in the head. Then, after parking the SUV in the garage, she went upstairs and killed her 16-year-old daughter, Calyx. She shot both children twice, once in the back of the head and then once in the face.

Conversation this morning ranged around the question, as one woman put it, eyes ablaze with anger and tears streaming down her face, "How can you all possibly sit around this table and say you believe in a God who would let something like this happen? If God is really here to love and protect his children then somebody please explain this to me?"

She was angry. Fighting mad. Heartbroken. She felt as if something foundational to her own sense of right and wrong, faith, and justice had been deeply violated. And it had.

I'm not going to attempt to answer "why" God chooses not to break in to time and space in situations such as this, why God does not temporarily eliminate free-will, why the fundamental laws which govern the universe are not suspended, why God does not intervene to stop such brutal acts.

I'm especially not going to offer some trite explanation when it's an undeniable fact that I petition God to do the miraculous on a regular basis, and I really do believe that God does intervene in countless circumstances... So why not this time?

But I will say this. When my friend talked about God failing to protect his children, I immediately interrupted, "No, that's our job..." 

Jesus came to show us the way. In fact the early Christians were know as "Followers of The Way." Following Jesus, living as a disciple, claiming our role as "pilgrims in progress", means interacting with and acting on a desperately broken world, and doing it in the name of Jesus.

So I think a more useful question is going to be this:

  • "How is God calling me to be a follower of The Way today, in my life, with my family, at my job.
  • How is God calling me to be a Jesus follower and to work for justice, for peace, or as an advocate for children? 
  • What does my discipleship look like in this hurting and broken world?

I often quote the Romans 8 passage that suggest the entire creation is waiting for those of us who claim to follow God to "get it". It really is a good question. I honestly can't think of a better investment of out talents and our resources than to be more deliberate "Followers of The Jesus Way".


1 comment:

  1. When things like this happen our minds grasp at tying to find an explanation. It is our paltry attempt at making ourselves feel safe in a world full of chaos. There are no answers and as uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, our world is full of chaos, some of it self inflicted, some of it imposed from without.

    Into this chaos, Christ comes to heal our infirmities and show us a way of offering this world back to him as our priestly office.

    Thanks for not giving in to easy "answers".