Mass shootings. Recorded beatings. Bombings. Whenever one of these tragedies hits the news Social Media lights up with both believers and non-believers asking “Where was God?”. Some say “Jesus, we need you now more than ever”. These are valid questions and statements, however, the perspective is skewed. Let me explain.
These acts, taken one by one, whether done by a single person or a group, regardless of whether the motive is terrorism, racism, religious, anti-religious or homophobic is a free will choice. It is the God given free will choice. What these people have chosen is darkness. What these people have chosen is hatred. What these people have chosen is to not choose love. God is love. Therefore, if they have chosen anything other than love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then they have not chose God. So yes, where was God? He was not chosen by this person or group of people, rather, they chose against Him.
But what about the victims? Did they not choose God? I pray that they did. Life is our one shot at finding, following and accepting God. Part of that acceptance includes peace that is found in knowing that life will include pain, suffering, sorrow and loss. None of these things are eternal. Life is but a blink of an eye compared to eternity. I understand that this can be a tough concept. Think of it like this: During a Children’s Sermon I once took a large piece of white paper and put on it one single black dot. When I held it up for the children to see, I asked the “What do you see?”. The kids all responded “A tiny black dot”. This analogy was used to show how we as humans tend to focus on the little speck of dark and not the immensely larger area of white. This is also true if you use the black dot as our time in this life compared to eternity.
“Jesus we need you now more than ever”. Yes, we absolutely do, but, he is just as he was, is and always will be, waiting for us to accept him. He is waiting for all of God’s created to turn to him, follow him, live by his commandments and accept that we are failures and cannot do it on our own. The reward is eternal life. There is no other way. The pain, suffering and sorrow of this life will one day end for us all. Choose to end this life, no matter how long or short it may seem, resting in knowing that eternity in paradise with the one who created us awaits. With that said, if you know and love someone who has turned their back from the notion that there is a God, do everything you can to lead them to Him. This is not a game. It is not a fleeting thought. Just as I heard in an amazing *Sermon last night, remember that Jesus came to be an annoyance. He came to disrupt our sinful life. He came to be a pebble in our shoe and a grain of sand in the eye. He came to disrupt us from death and sin.
Where is God? If you are a believer and have accepted him, he is in you. He is waiting for you to spread his kingdom to those who walk in darkness. If you have not yet chosen him and his ways, he is waiting. He is always one breath away. Ask for him to come into your life. Ask for him to take charge of your family and those you love. Ask him to disrupt your life. Walk in his ways. Be His hands and feet. And in preparation for when he calls you home, ask him to prepare you.
This is not a game. It is not about how many “Likes” Jesus can get. It truly is the chance for every one of us to choose him and reach as many people as we can, while we are here, with his message of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Deacon Jason Bowden
*Notes from the Sermon referenced above were taken from the Epiphany Sermon written and delivered by Father Tom Janikowski on January 6, 2017 at Trinity Anglican Church, Rock Island, IL.