“… and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
Words cannot begin to capture the heart-rending agony that so many of us are feeling over the senseless deaths of so many innocents in Newtown, CT just a few days ago.
In the intervening hours between then and now, a tweet posted by Seventh-day Adventist Christian ministry It Is Written (@itiswritten) sparked an interesting debate between pastors which highlighted a very important question for all of us who seek to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in times that are seen by a number of groups – for varying reasons – as the end times.
Some took offense to the wording of the tweet, stating that the use of the word “easy” was insensitive and offensive, and implying that the tweet betrayed a lack of compassion.
Should we use the events happening in the world around us to point people toward the gospel? If we do, what if outsiders construe our actions as a form of cold opportunism or a lack of compassion?
Is it insensitive to see tragic events as a kind of evangelistic opportunity? I’ve heard it said that while Christmas Day was not Jesus’ historical birthday, the general good will that prevails during the season might mean that some hearts are more receptive to hear the truth of the Gospel. Is it insulting or somehow callous to say that the same is true after such terrible tragedies? What could be more compassionate than telling hurting people about the hope of the Gospel?
The fact is that God does tell us in His word that these things are going to happen with more and more frequency toward the close of earth’s history; that we are called to fight against the Satanic propaganda that blames God for tragedies; that events like these reenforce our case against that deceptive ideology. Jesus is relevant. His message provides real help and real hope even in life’s most difficult moments. He holds the only solution that will fully satisfy our aching hearts.
God already has a plan in place that will resoundingly, completely, finally answer not just the injustice and pain of this tragedy, but of every other tragedy that has taken place since Abel died at the hands of his brother. Christ’s solution is the solution that the heart of every victim, every survivor of tragedy longs for: the dead innocents resurrected, the cruel wicked punished, the death of hate, violence and selfishness, the extinction of heartache and suffering. Love conquering all. Life consuming and obliterating death. The Almighty God of the universe personally wiping away the tears of every weary eye.
There is a hope. There is a way to right even the most heinous wrongs. The fact that we don’t yet see the answer played out, that God is biding His time, does not mean He’s forgotten even one single tear.
God knows that the answer isn’t a new government or a new political system in this world; the answer is a new world altogether. Deep down, we know it too. That new world is the consummation of the hope of the Gospel, and it must be the message that we can’t help but share.
The mounting tragedies and attacks against that which is most sacred in life can serve a greater purpose – but only if we let God use us to bring many souls to salvation through them. Make no mistake – these events are the direct doing of Satan, not God. But if we don’t seize these moments to advance the cause of Christ .. ? I shudder even to consider the outcome.
Is it easy to preach Christ’s plan of salvation, justice and restoration in a world full of horrific evil? For those of us who know the hope of the Gospel, it certainly should be.