The city of London has suffered more disasters of human wickedness than most. This last week London has again experienced human sinfulness, as terrorists targeted innocent people. Previously this city has coped with the horrors of the Blitz and the terror of the IRA bombs. The calm and organization with which London dealt with this week’s disaster, admirably symbolises the citizens’ resolve not to be bullied.
Evil is endemic to this world. Our own evil as well as others’ affects us all. There will be no absolute justice in this world, but only compromise, tolerance, patience and suffering as we seek to improve the lot of humanity. The evil that leads people to such desperate and wicked actions as these terrorists cannot be addressed while they leave bombs in trains and buses. Their behaviour is counter-productive for it will only unite London against them.
The Lord Jesus Christ did more than show us how to deal with evil – he conquered it. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:9). He used no military force or economic control. He changed no constitution or politicians. He conquered by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. He did it by being both human and God.
No human could overcome the devil for we are all sold into slavery to him. No human could ever pay the price for another’s sin – let alone the sins of the whole world. No human could so pay for sin as to overcome death and rise to new life. Only God could destroy the work of the devil and free his captives. It was when God became man in the person of Jesus Christ that he paid the price in full and liberated us from sin, Satan and judgement.
As evil is endemic to this world so righteousness is endemic to the next. “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). For when the Lord Jesus returns the evil in which we live and breathe and have our share will be finally and utterly destroyed. The assurance and confidence that we have of this outcome is Jesus’ death and resurrection.
But we do not only wait. We have more than the promise in the past and the fulfilment in the future. For at the present moment, the Lord Jesus sits in all authority and power in his Father’s kingdom. Upon his resurrection and ascension Jesus sent his Spirit into the world bringing regeneration i.e. new birth. This new birth produces repentance towards God and trust in his Son’s death and resurrection. This new birth transfers his people spiritually out of the kingdom of this world into the kingdom of God.
Such a conversion from citizenship in this world to citizenship in the kingdom of God has dramatic effect upon living now in this world. Now love and righteousness are the dominant motivations of our social ethics as we seek to live to the glory of our God. So, Christians have been and are now in the forefront of caring for the weak, upholding the just claims of the poor and dispossessed, providing for the needy and seeking to live at peace with all.
We know that this is an impossible mandate for this world. There never will be a time when there is ‘no child in poverty’ for we will ‘always have the poor’ with us. But while we wait for that time when God “will wipe away every tear” we continue to live in love and work for justice. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14-15).
This week’s terrible expression of hatred should not surprise Christian people. It is to be expected that humans will be evil. But it should move us to prayer. We should obviously follow our hearts compassion and pray for the victims and their families. But we should also pray for the perpetrators – for our Lord taught us to pray for our enemies. Pray that God will regenerate their hearts – moving them from hatred to love from taking life to giving it. And we should pray for governments that under God “we may lead a peaceful and quiet life”. However, our real prayer is for the coming of the God’s Kingdom when God’s name will be hallowed, and his will done on earth as it is in heaven.