Christmas in Connecticut 2012 posted by jwatson on Dec 19, 2012
Comfort and joy are scarce commodities in Newtown, Connecticut this holiday season.
Twenty children and 6 adults have been viciously murdered in an elementary classroom. The accused seemed to have no verifiable motive, and in fact has been suspected of killing his own mother and also taking his own life. This is an unimaginable evil, recognized as a senseless atrocity by even the most hardened heart and ardent skeptic.
In the carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned these lines:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men.”
Have you noticed the lack of solid solutions heard from our leaders? The political and media pundits in particular are bereft of answers. They fill up their allotted time in podiums and on-air baffled and befuddled, trying to answer the questions: Why did this happen? How can we stop this from happening again? What are the good and necessary measures required to keep our families, our neighborhoods, our country safe?
Dr. John Sorensen, President of EE International, recently told staff that the contrast between those who truly follow Christ and those who do not is growing more and more pronounced. This is true. Gone are the days where Christians can blend in and be quiet; in fact, to do so is a dereliction of duty.
As followers of God in Christ, we do not have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines as spectators; instead the Coach is asking us to ‘suit up’ and get in the game. We each have our role, our part to play, assigned by the One whom calls the entire world to himself (Acts 17:30-31).
Some good and necessary questions, however, are first in order. Faith must be a personal issue. Do I believe what I say I believe, or do I just say I believe it? What aspects of my life do not match my profession? This is not to say that the goal is perfection, but rather possession. We each need to properly assess where we are in our spiritual journey. To help you do so, please allow me to suggest the following steps:
Confirm that the basis for your faith is accurate. A great, simple tool for doing this is our Steps to Life on-line survey, which only takes a few minutes. Please don’t skim over this lightly: our disposition to self-deception is extraordinary (Jeremiah 17:9), so we must take care to assure that our faith is based on Christ alone through faith alone, merited by grace alone and confirmed by the Scriptures (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Confirm that your faith is genuine. This is not as difficult as you may think: it is simply a matter of assessing your proclivities and activities. If we are indeed children of God, our desires and behavior will reflect that fact (Ephesians 2:10). This is not to justify ourselves in the sight of God – something only Christ can do – but rather to justify ourselves in the sight of others and even ourselves (James 2:14-20). Our faith is confirmed inwardly and outwardly, by both what we desire and what we do. Good deeds are the fruit, not the root, of our acceptance by God through Christ.
Make any necessary changes. The Bible calls this type of change repentance, an essential process to both the beginning and living out of our faith (Matthew 3:8). We must determine where our minds and hearts do not align with God’s mind and heart, revealed to us in Scripture and through prayer, and adjust accordingly. Blessing comes through joyful, surrendered obedience to the One Who loved us, and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20).
Ironically, this kind of self-assessment is not done best by yourself. While you must begin personally (2 Corinthians 13:5), please enlist the aid of a trustworthy pastor or church leader, someone well grounded in the Bible who can help you sort through these important and eternal issues. Of course, we at Evangelism Explosion stand ready to offer any kind of assistance we can along these lines.
Just think: if everyone who has been affected by this tragedy in Connecticut would take these steps, how different our society and country would be.
Just think: if you did so, how different your life would be.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.