As we experience life, we have probably all asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” While I have pondered this very question numerous times, I have also pondered this question: “why don’t good people respond well to bad things?” It’s impossible to determine the external experiences we face in our lives; however, we are able to determine how we respond to them. This is my response to the Moncton RCMP tragedy.
We often say, “the world is becoming a bad place!” However, we hardly ever wonder, “what’s wrong with my response to what’s happening in the world?” We often don’t assume blame, responsibility, or even offer love (in many cases) towards what we consider as “bad”. Instead, we tend to label ourselves as “the good people” and expect “the bad people” to be removed, judged, and/or imprisoned. From the beginning, there have been consequences for those who do bad things, with an equal responsibility to respond with love and grace.
The world isn’t becoming a bad place; from the beginning, bad has consumed the human race. Murder has been around since people started interacting with one another. Cain took his brother’s life because he was resentful of God’s response to his brother’s offering.[i] The response of humanity was anger, while God’s response was consequential mercy.[ii] While there were major consequences to Cain’s actions that were even “greater than [he] could bear,”[iii] God protected him out of mercy and love.
The world isn’t becoming a bad place; God included murder as a form of spiritual deface. When God gave Moses the ten commandments, he specifically included the command not to take someone’s life.[iv] The issue of murder is not a sign of the 21st century, it is a sign of humanity’s sin. To murder, however, means to disobey God’s command and to deface our spiritual journey. It results in consequence and forgivable under God’s grace.
The world isn’t becoming a bad place; humanity is becoming numb to God’s grace. One of the most notable stories of murder in scripture is found in the Gospels. Jesus was brought before Pilate and they were determining the outcome. As tradition, Pilate released a prisoner during the Passover feast. Pilate gave the crowd a choice: release Jesus or Barabbas (a rebel murderer who was a part of the rebellion against Roman authority[v]). The people asked to release Barabbas, and to crucify Jesus. When I step back and look that story from Barabbas’ point of view, I see Jesus not only showing mercy towards him, but taking his place and paying his consequences. Jesus hasn’t called us to pay for the wrongdoings of others (Jesus paid it for all of us); however, He does expect us to point others to His grace.
My heart really goes out to our Canadian friends in Moncton this week; tragedy has struck a city by surprise. Elements of fear, terror, and the unknown, fill the streets as police are shot and murdered in the middle of the day. My prayers are with their families, friends and co-workers as their lives are forever changed by this unforeseen tragedy. I pray that God’s grace, mercy and love will overwhelm them; and through it all, this experience will somehow draw the community closer together.
My heart is also saddened as I think about how much help and love Justin Bourque needs. There are consequences that he faces, and so he should, but our response to his actions has the potential to silence his cause. The world isn’t getting worse, but our response could make it brighter.
Join with me, as I #PrayForMoncton …
…for the families, friends and co-workers of the RCMP victims; may God’s peace be with them as they grieve the loss of three heroes.
…for the residents of Moncton; may God’s peace and comfort fill every house as police continue to search.
…for the families and friends of Justin Bourque; may God grant them peace as they realize they are not to blame for Justin’s actions.
…for Justin Bourque himself, may God’s love overwhelm him to turn himself in and return peace to the city Moncton.