Bombs in Boston
In the heartbreak and confusion of the two explosions that killed three people and wounded hundreds of others at the Boston Marathon this week, my heart wants to cry out against the senselessness of it: What is wrong with the world? Who wants to blow up a bunch of distance runners (arguably the least offensive athletes on the planet)? Even worse is killing and maiming the faithful friends and family who went out to support these athletes. Can we call this anything but evil?
We've been talking the past two Sundays about the twisted pervasiveness of sin, how it begins with a failure to honor God, leads to an impairment of the heart to judge good and evil, and ultimately manifests itself in the most degrading and perverse of behavior (Romans 1:18-32). And sin, Romans 6 attests, leads to death. This isn't an abstract theological doctrine—this is the reality the nation and especially the victims and families are left with in the wake of this horrifying event. We get a shocking proof of it once in a while on the news or in our lives, but it is true all day every day. We live in a world torn by sin, in bondage to death.
I was reminded by this event, strangely enough, of a comedy called Undercover Blues where Dennis Quaid is a secret agent on vacation with his wife and baby, when he and the baby are attacked by two muggers with knives. Comic violence ensues and Dennis Quaid and his baby walk away without a scratch, but as he is putting his baby down for the night, he tells her, “It's a bad world, isn't it, sweetie? But you, me, and mommy are going to make it better.” A remarkable moment in an otherwise ridiculous film. It IS a bad world, neck deep in death and sin. And who is going to make it better?
This is where the story of the gospel unfolds. For all that God uses governments and secular agencies to keep the evil of the world in check, and we are deeply thankful for the brave police who found and disarmed two additional bombs before they hurt anyone else, there is only One who can bring a permanent solution to sin and death. Christ came to redeem this broken world. He struck at the heart of the issue by taking the guilt of our sin on himself and dying for our penalty, but then he shattered the power of sin and death by rising again in victory. He did this not just to save individuals, to evacuate people out of a world going down the toilet, but to make the world new. He went to the core of our brokenness and brought new life. We look forward to the time when he comes again in glory to raise from the death all those who have died while believing in him to eternal life in new bodies that cannot be destroyed by bomb blasts or infirmity, because the world itself will be renewed and healed. There won't BE bombs or sickness or sin.
But neither has he left the world to fend for itself and deteriorate until he comes again. He has not stopped working in the world—he has sent his people into the world to be his hands and feet, to extend healing to the suffering, comfort to the grieving, and repentance for those who have hurt others to turn to God and be forgiven. His kingdom is even now present in the world, working against the tide of godlessness, pain, and grief flooding it. We the body of Christ are his presence, the beginning of the world renewal we long to see fulfilled in Christ's second coming.
These bombings are horrifying, but not out of character with the world we live in. Sometimes we manage to forget that the world is at odds with God's good design for it and that we his people need to stand out as an embodiment of the new life and restoration Jesus brings. It's a bad world, but Christ our King is going to make it better, and we are the means he uses to make it better until he comes again to reconcile all things to himself.