How Should Christians Worship In The Aftermath Of Violence And Terror?

by Kristen Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings

Christ on the cross artworkOur nation was jolted last week by the tragic, civilian “war zone” created at the Boston Marathon after two terrible explosions killed 3 people and horribly wounded nearly two hundred others.  The news media photos depicted bloody carnage on the streets of Massachusetts, terror rarely witnessed on U.S. soil in modern times.

These acts of violent terror against humanity happen every day around the world.  No matter how it happens, or where it happens, the heart of God weeps with all who weep in the aftermath.  And His righteous anger is stirred against the wicked.  He is not sleeping.  He is not deaf.  He hears the bloody cries for justice.  And He has promised to righteously judge the wicked.

How should Christians respond to the rampant evils, oppression and injustice of this world as we live to trust, obey and declare what is true about God?  What should our worship of God sound like in response to such evil?  Consider this Psalm of David, which he sung to the Lord as his own cry for justice in the face of great persecution and violence:

Arise, O Lord, in anger! Stand up against the fury of my enemies!

Wake up, my God, and bring justice! . . .

For You look deep within the mind and heart, O righteous God. 

God is my shield, saving those whose hearts are true and right.

God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.

If a person does not repent, God will sharpen His sword; He will bend and string His bow.

He will prepare His deadly weapons and shoot His flaming arrows.

The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies.

They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves.

The trouble they make for others backfires on them.

The violence they plan falls on their own heads.

I will thank the Lord because He is just;

I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”  — Psalm 7:6-17

David doesn’t mince words in crying out for God to bring justice.  Neither does he neglect to focus his attention upon the character and trustworthy reputation of God.  He vehemently declares:

  • who God is (our Shield and Savior, an Honest Judge who is angry with the wicked every day; God is Just)
  • what God does and why He does it (searches the minds and hearts of men and saves the upright in heart, but prepares and shoots His deadly weapons at the wicked and unrepentant).

David acknowledges the wickedness, the violence and evil all around him, but he moves to remember the sovereign and just rule of God over everything. He petitions the righteous anger and perfect justice of God as his defense.  But he also gives a warning to the unrepentant as he vividly describes their fate in the hands of the Living, Jealous and Holy God.

And he declares God’s mercy (a call to repentance) by reminding all of us that God is a shield for those whose hearts are true and right (who have repented and turned to God).  David’s song declares God’s vengeance, His justice and His mercy.  God punishes the wicked, but He saves those who repent.  And this salvation for sinners is made possible only by the justice of God demonstrated as He poured out upon Himself the wrath reserved for sinners.  He punished Himself for the evil sinfulness of the world!

Yes, God is angry with the wicked every day.  But He is also merciful to repentant sinners every day.  So as we respond to the violent evil surrounding us every day, including the horrible tragedy in Boston, we should join David in crying out for God’s justice, remembering His mercy and salvation, and giving thanks and praise to the Lord who is Just, to the Lord MOST HIGH.

Museo Diocesano de Santiago Apostol photo used via Creative Commons license

{ 1 comment }

Kat French April 22, 2013 at 9:56 am

This was deeply encouraging to me, Kristen. Aside from the terrible events that received national coverage last week, Chris and I are dealing with an issue on a much smaller scale that has grieved both our hearts. Lies, intimidation and just plain evil are things that we all have to confront, especially as we seek to shine light in our local communities. It’s comforting to be reminded that even when it seems like the bad guys keep winning, there will be a reckoning. Have a blessed week.

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