"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:23)
God with us. The tragedy in Newtown, CT this last week brings these words into stark relief. God with us. We watch that kind of evil unfold and ask why? We wonder how such things could happen? We get a glimpse into the darkness that resides in the hearts of men and find ourselves shocked at what we see. But we shouldn't be. The whole sordid tale of humanity is marred by a whole lot of ugliness. We cry out for answers and for safety. The anti-gun crowd and pro-gun crowd are gearing up for the inevitable clash over gun regulation. I read an article this morning about the connection between psychotropic drugs and school shootings. Investigators are looking at the shooter, his mother, his family, his background and his mental illness for an answer into why. We want answers and we want to see that it never happens again.
It will happen again. Sin is, unfortunately, a present reality for the human experience. We don't like to talk much about sin anymore -- not even in churches, but it is what it is. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?" We tend now, in our culture, to judge God according to the standards of man. God can't be good or even real because people are judged. I wonder how many people who don't believe in Hell are now hoping that Hell exists -- at least for Adam Lanza anyway. This kind of event knocks us off of our easy platitudes and wishful thinking. Man struggles enough with Jesus. The history of man without God is ugly.
God with us. God help us, because we so desperately need Him. Culturally we seek to marginalize God until tragedy strikes. We don't want Him in the public discourse. We don't want Him in our schools. We don't want Him in our politics. Have your religion, but keep it to yourself. We tell kids that they are just animals like all the other animals and then we wonder why they behave like animals. You're just another monkey off the family tree, not a very special person, created in the image of God. We make life cheap by killing some 50,000,000 unborn babies and we wonder why people don't value life. Morality and virtue are outdated and subjective. The United States of America has never been a theocracy, but it has been a nation with a God consciousness for most of its existence. Despite revisionist history that is just the truth. If you don't believe me forget what some people now say and go back and read the history -- it's all there in black and white and pretty darned clear.
God with us. That's what Christmas is all about. The answer was not in the law or in the hearts of men or the strength of men or the goodness of men. God became the answer, in part, because there is no other answer. Never has been. In a sin riddled world the answer to the question is still Jesus. What question? Every one that matters. Sadly, Jesus was the answer for Adam Lanza. Jesus is the answer for these children who have gone to the presence of God. Jesus is still the answer for those who are left behind.
In Jeremiah 8:22 the prophet asks the question, " Is there a balm in Gilead?" In Matthew 12:20 we read about Jesus: "A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory." Our prayers are with those left behind in Newtown. Our hearts go out to them. There are lots of victims here. As we search for answers, maybe, just maybe some will find the real answer.
'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)