After Wednesday’s slaughter of innocents at the hands of radical Muslims, a New York tabloid screamed at us, “God isn’t fixing this!” The obvious response might be, “Did you ever ask him to fix it?” Presumably, the cynics at the Daily News assume others have been pleading for divine help.
Quite a few politicians have mentioned seeking God since the people in San Bernardino were gunned down. We’ve seen their tweets. We’ve heard the soundbites on cable news shows. It’s even been controversial, so we salute their courage in suggesting prayer. But calls for prayer are just words.
Words fail when they prescribe actions nobody is taking. Sometimes, the things we say about prayer are just code words: “I’m praying for you” can simply be a nice way of saying “I hope things work out. I care.” Offering prayer can be a way of seeming to offer help without actually getting involved. Sometimes I believe a lot of “unanswered prayers” are actually “unprayed” prayers. We cared but not that much.
The biggest challenge for Christians facing a drumbeat of bad news and violence is that we become so overwhelmed and numb that we fail to act. When the headlines are filled with great tragedies, it tends to make small kindnesses seem tiny and insignificant- at least in our minds. But in fact, in a world of bad news, small deeds of love and encouragement tend to stand out more vividly. We become lights in the darkness. If that sounds biblical, it should.
You and I can make a difference this tragic week by daily offering up small blessings in real time. Don’t promise to pray: stop and literally pray with the person at that moment. Pray with friends about the Islamic threat and its victims. Don’t promise to keep someone in your thoughts: pause and send them a note or a basket of flowers. Don’t ponder what can be done for an angry, bitter neighbor: choose one positive act of encouragement and carry it out. If something is required that you cannot handle, put your money where your mouth is: contribute today to a church or ministry that can handle it.
Radical Muslims kill people with weapons. Christians kill hatred with love, generosity and prayers. The answer to terrorism is more saints: not more laws. You and I must translate our theology into flesh and blood. The Bible calls that incarnation.
Lift up the Cross.