Broken People Do Broken Things

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

“Broken people do broken things.”

I first heard this nugget of wisdom form a funeral home director.  He and I were riding in the hearse to a graveside service after having left the funeral home and a family that was fighting with each other.  I don’t remember why they were fighting (probably something to do with inheritance), but I was visibly shaken and the director could tell.  I remember asking why they couldn’t get past their difference for at least an hour and be civil with one another during the service, and that’s when he said it, “Broken people do broken things.”

I don’t think he meant it to excuse their behavior, but perhaps to change my perspective on the world.  The world is full of broken people.  Some have managed to put a good spin on their brokenness, their sins are the acceptable kind that are given a wink by society.  For others, their brokenness is clear for everyone to see, and often that brokenness is worn as a “red badge of courage.”

Hasn’t the brokenness of the world reared its ugly head this week?  Over the weekend we heard of ISIS having beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians , and this just after the news of the death of Kayla Mueller, the burning of the Jordanian pilot, their names added to a very long list of victims of horrible terror . (I read just this morning of another report that ISIS had burned to death another 45  people in an Iraqi town.) There was the shooting rampage in Denmark, the foiled terror plans in Canada, the murder of three students at the University of Connecticut.  Add to that the horrible news coming from Lennox, SD, where I’ll soon be moving, of a gunman who shot two people and then killed himself – all because of an argument over a delivery.

It’s all the kind of thing that makes you not want to get out of bed in the morning.

I make no effort to make sense of senseless violence. You cannot explain or rationalize brutality like this. Sometimes, all it feels you can do is throw up your hands, keep your head down, and resign yourself to the fact that “lost people do lost things.”

But that is not the Christian message.

I don’t purport to have all the answers regarding evil and it’s place in the world.  I must leave that discussion to better minds than mine.  But I do believe that our faith has something important to say in the midst of such atrocities.

First, we must realize that evil is real, and we live in a fallen world.  Since Adam’s fall, all the world has been subjected to futility, and creation itself awaits the revealing of the sons of God in which it too will be released from its bondage to corruption (see Romans 8).  Suffering and violence, natural disasters and wars, these are symptoms of a greater sickness, namely, we live in world that subjected to corruption because of man’s sin and rebellion from God.

Second, I believe Scripture teaches that God has a purpose in everything, including the evil we face in this life.  Often it is hard to see and difficult to understand – and we may never find in this life the ultimate meaning that is hidden in the heart of sorrow, disappointment, and grief.  But we remember the words of Joseph to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen 50:20).  Even more, we see God’s providence working even in the death of Jesus Christ, who was holy and without sin, the greatest tragedy ever committed on the face of the earth, and yet through His death and resurrection, we find the salvation of all who would call upon His name (Acts 3:13-16).

Finally, we must remember, evil does not have the last word.  Though their powers may flare and cause us to tremble, though

this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear for, God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

We abound in hope, even in the face of evil, tragedy, and loss. We abound in hope because we know that because Christ has been raised in victory over death, those whose lives are hidden in Him have received that victory as well.  We know that no matter what we face, even if we are handed over for tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or the sword, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…” and nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:31-39).

In John 16:33 Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Christ has overcome!  Therefore, in good times and in bad, let us look to Him that we may be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58).

SDG

The Cross and the Open Tomb

 

 “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.”
(Romans 6:4)

The following is an excerpt from The Cross through the Open Tomb by Donald Grey Barnhouse:

It is not wise to teach the crucifixion as the climax of the life of Christ.  Such teaching not only minimizes the resurrection, but it also robs the believer of a sense of the ever-living presence of his Lord in daily life.  Let us consider the cross from the resurrection side in three aspects.

First, as we think of the cross in connection with out past sin, we shall know only sorrowing defeat unless we see the death of Jesus Christ through the open tomb, for our sin nailed Jesus Christ to that cross.  If we see Him merely dying, then there is nothing for us.  But Christ arose from the grave, and His resurrection assures us that He has overcome death.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the triumphant cross. There our sin was dealt with; there our sin was paid for; there our enemy was defeated; there death with all its powers was vanquished and we have life in Christ.

Second, the cross though the tomb means that we have a living Savior, a Savior of our present life.  The tomb of our Lord is empty and our Savior is in heaven interceding for us.  Furthermore, because Christ is risen, we have the high privilege of walking with Him in newness of life, for by His Spirit we are identified with Him.  This enables us to walk as the sons of God among the sons of men.  Through the cross our sins are forgiven; by the open tomb the risen Lord imparts to us His eternal life.  When the cross is truly seen through the open tomb, we can be sure of victory in our risen Savior, amid the problems of daily life.  God can tame our tongues; He can give us a word of grace instead of words of criticism.  God can make us long-suffering instead of short-tempered.  In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Third, not only is the cross through the open tomb our greatest triumph because our sins are forgiven and redeemed forever; not only do we have confidence and trust for daily life because our risen Lord is at the right hand of God; but the cross through the open tomb guarantees our future hope.  1 Peter 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”  Nothing can destroy this hope, nothing can corrupt it, nothing can defile it, nothing on earth can depreciate it, for this hope is reserved in heaven for us.  Through the power of God we are being kept for this glorious hope.  Nothing can keep us from it.