Every time I turn on the television, it gets more difficult to switch to the news. Even as a news junkie, it’s hard to see everything unfolding around the world and not feel just a little bit hopeless. It seems like every day I’m hearing about some new despicable act by ISIS, worsening developments among Syrian refugees, or increased political tensions between Russia and Europe. Having grown up in the 90’s, I wasn’t familiar with the Cold War. Until September 11, I had never known a world in which the United States was under a significant threat of attack. But so much has changed in just 14 years. The developments that CNN, Fox News ,and MSNBC don’t cover are even more shocking.
Every day, I receive copies of the security briefings going out to our field staff. The latest briefing reported the following developments in the last 72 hours:
Approximately 400 people have organized in protest against Ukraine’s economic policies.
Anti-government protests have broken out in Manila.
Over 700 people have died and another 11,000 have been infected from a simple flu outbreak in India.
18,000 people have been displaced in Bolivia due to ongoing flooding.
Russia continues to withhold gas deliveries into Ukraine.
10 military officers are being tried in Venezuela for a 2014 coup attempt.
And those are still just the highlights. When we hear and read about these events, the common reaction is to disengage. We want to turn off the TV, avoid news websites, and just focus on our own problems. But when we look at these events in light of our faith, Christ demands a different response.
This Is Our Story
Like most people, I love stories. I love intriguing characters and twist endings. As we read the Bible, we find more than just a collection of narratives. Interwoven through it all is an overarching story that puts everything happening today in greater context.
Like every story, the Bible gives us a conflict that must be resolved. We see that sin has entered and shattered God’s Creation. It has destroyed everything God designed. As the Old Testament unfolds, we get our rising action. We see the people of Israel try and fail to make up for their fallenness by their own merit.
Then comes the great climax. In the battle to fight for his people, God sends his own son to pay the penalty for our sin and rescue us from our brokenness. He invades the darkness, takes on our burden, and defeats death itself. The New Testament then tells us how the early Church developed and took this message all over their world.
But there is a catch to this story. Unlike others, the narrative of the Bible doesn’t resolve… at least not yet. In Revelation, we’re told how things will end someday but that resolution hasn’t happened yet.
This can only mean that we are still in the story. As Christians today, we are still a part of the salvation narrative that has been unfolding since Genesis 3. We get to play a role in what God is doing around the world, but we do it with the benefit of knowing that the victory has already been won. We look at his triumph over death and brokenness in the rear-view mirror. Most of all, we move forward knowing that Jesus will eventually finish what he began – to make all things new.
The Casting Call
While we watch our world seemingly crumble, we see the narrative of Scripture continue to play out around us. As Christians, we operate from a place of victory rather than defeat. Death has already been conquered. The clock is running out on our enemy and brokenness can only last so much longer. Our Savior bids us to come and join his campaign to make all things new. This is what motivates us to engage with the problems of this world rather than recoil in fear.
We know the slave can find freedom. We believe the orphan isn’t truly alone. We trust the sick can be healed and we know the sinner can be saved. We serve the One who sets rulers on their thrones and brings them down at his will. Rather than mourning the current brokenness, we celebrate the victory that has already been won.
All of this ultimately leads us to a choice. We can either disengage from everything going on around us, or we can accept Christ’s offer to join what he is doing around the world. As Paul writes, “If God is for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)?”
In other words, what do we really stand to lose?