Many people seem to think mankind is under some sort of progressive march unto perfecting ourselves. Then, you look around and realize little has changed from the time Cain killed Abel until now. You don’t need to search far to realize that evil is still rampant in our world. Violence, genocide, and injustice seem to be out of control, and it’s hard to know how we should respond.
Should we go into an all out war to destroy ISIS? How do we deal with violence against the police as well as unwarranted violence by the police? What should we do to combat the real problem of domestic violence in the NFL and elsewhere? How do we combat all the atrocities going on in the Middle East, North Korea, Africa, and even in our own country?
These are serious questions I certainly don’t have any answers to. I do know it’s been hard to watch all that’s been going on, and the temptation to pretend like my sinfulness is somehow acceptable in comparison is getting harder and harder to resist.
So what can we do to productively help those in need and bring those responsible to justice? I want to share a few points I believe the Bible gives us to help…
1) Trust God to avenge
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,‘ says the Lord.'”–Romans 12:19
Far too often, we as Christians like to think of God simply as being kind and loving, but it’s important to remember that part of God’s love also includes his desire for justice, which often involves the easily misunderstood concept of His wrath. God cannot tolerate sin, and He promises to cast His wrath upon all those who violate His good and perfect will. It’s our job to trust Him to do just that–without unnecessarily getting in the way.
2) Repent of our own sinfulness
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”–Romans 3:23
Understanding the fact that God pours out His wrath against all those who sin means it’s vitally important we don’t see ourselves as perfect “saints” who are somehow better than those around us. Rather, we need to understand we are all broken and deserve God’s wrath. Therefore, rather than being quick to judge others’ imperfections, we first must address our own by confessing our sins, repenting of those sins, and addressing the needs of others with an empathetic, caring attitude that’s looking to help and build up–not to judge and degrade.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
It may sound simple, but perhaps the most powerful thing we can do to combat the injustices on earth is to pray. Pray for those who are being abused, pray for those who are in positions to act against said abuse (political, military, etc), and EVEN pray for our enemies involved in the abuse.
The latter has been an especially difficult concept for me to grasp. Why should I pray for those who are violently savaging against innocent people? And the answer goes back to my first two points: it’s God’s job to avenge and I am a sinner–similarly worthy of said vengeance!
Who knows, it is possible (and maybe even likely) that God will call us to do more. But first we must pray, and then trust God to act!