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Why? (A response to senseless violence)

The aftermath of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, has left many stunned, hurt and questioning; why do these things happen and what has gone wrong to bring us to this point? And amidst these questions the challenge around the existence of a loving God often comes to the fore.

Before addressing the above I wish to give a brief overview of the history of mankind and the world as we know it:

  • In the beginning, God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31). In short God mad a perfect world without any death or pain. A world for which He planned his very best; an environment where He could have intimate fellowship with mankind.
  • Having created us God knew what was best for us as well as how to keep us eternally safe. His intentions where however ruined when mankind, through the prompting of the Devil questioned and doubted the creator's instructions with, "Did God say?" (Genesis 3:1).
  • God's law was transgressed and very quickly mankind's ways degenerated into rebellion and violence.

    "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And God repented that He had made man on the earth, and He was angry to His heart. And God said, I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air. For I repent that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of God." - Genesis 6:5-8.

It is important to note that right from the start, not matter how far people go to reject and hurt God that He is always gracious and looking for a way to help us out of our troubles. When Adam and Even first sin, He does not simply destroy them but rather kills an animal so as to provide them with clothing to hide their nakedness. Then to prevent them from eating of the tree of life and thereby being condemned to an eternal sinful state he banishes them from the Garden, setting in motion His final solution to sin that would see His son crucified, buried and risen again so that we might have opportunity to be reunited together with Him for eternity. His grace is shown again just before the Flood in that instead of destroying the whole world and starting again, God saves Moses who seemed to be the last person who still had a heart after God. It is evident that right from the beginning, God was always looking as to how he could redeem and save mankind. In spite of this the following two verses aptly some up what mankind’s response towards their creator has always been:

  • "Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate on a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers plot together, against God and against His anointed, saying, Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us." - Psalm 2:1-3.
  • "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not!" - Matthew 23:37.

Now even though the world stubbornly rejects God, He continues to long for us to be drawn back to himself:

  • "For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him." - John 3:16-17
  • "The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not purposing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." - 2 Peter 3:9

In short evil abounds because mankind has rejected God i.e. the only true God. And in the process everyone has been caught in the aftermath. Now while our God is interested in our physical well-being He is far more concerned for our Eternal well-being; but our security and hope in the future is only possible by submitting to His plan for salvation. This has nothing to do with our feelings or belief about God, Truth, Fairness etc. In fact outside of God our very best works are described as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:4, the translation of filthy here denotes uncleanness and rejection). So it is for this reason that our God allows these things to happen; He is hoping that in their need, mankind will turn to him. The sad truth however is that this does not happen. Instead of turning to God who wishes to succour and comfort us, people often curse God who they generally claim does not even exist, or they turn to the so called goodness of man in order to find a solution.

At times like these we, who know and love God, need to be reminded that our hope lies beyond this world but at the same time pray for those who have not met Christ. Our hope also needs to shine as a light to the world so that when asked about this hope we are ready and able to declare the reason for it.

"but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to  give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that while they speak against you as evildoers they may be shamed, those falsely accusing your good behaviour in Christ." - (I Peter 3:15)