Newtown, Connecticut weeps. In a community where the holidays are such a big deal, some have decided to take down their Christmas lights. It is a time for mourning. A time for tears. A time to ask big questions.
There are some good and godly responses that have been written about the tragedy in Newtown. What follows are just a few thoughts.
1. Carpe Deim (Seize the day). We are busy, we are tired, we are distracted and we are often overly concerned about the trivial. We miss opportunities to draw attention to our Savior, to roll on the floor with our children, to sqeeze them tight and to kiss our spouse. We fail to have family devotions because we are too tired. We go our way each day or we pull the covers up each night and fail to say what we need to say or to repent of that which we should not have said.
2. Love the Church. As I drove to church yesterday I was reminded of what a blessing it is to be able to go to church where the Word is proclaimed and there is sweet fellowship with the people of God. The church is a covenant community where we stand together on the truth and hold that truth high. The sentiment by many folks concerning the murders in Newtown is that "there are no words to say." The church has words to speak. The children of the church get to hear those words. They grow up in a place that helps them to make sense of the fallen world in which we live. The church is a one another community of love. It is a safe place in a world that is unsafe. It may not be safe from a murderer's rage but it is a place of rest and answers in the midst of rage.
3. Hate Sin. Evil was vividly displayed in Newtown last week. Yet it was also a reminder that hell is not just for folks who act on their venomous hearts. Hell is for folks who lust and hate in their hearts. Hell is for presumptous believers. Hell is for those who profess to believe in God and yet deny Him in their works. Hell is for those who do not conform to the law of God. Religious and irreligious folks are in danger of hell. Hell is for all sinners who do not repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ perfectly conformed to God's law and His righteousness is counted to those who believe in Him. The cross of Christ makes it abundantly clear that sin is awful and grace abounds.
4. Value Life. Our culture has been called a "culture of death." Since the 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade it is estimated that 50 million babies have been aborted. That is about 3,000 per day. The blood of our children has soaked into the ground of our land. Couple that horrific statistic with the devaluing of the elderly and we have a culture where life is devalued. It is hard to comprehend that 50 million of our children have been taken at the rate of 3,000 per day for the past 40 years. We are rightly horrified by the deaths at Newtown and we should weep for the families who suffer. We should also weep for our nation and pray that God would bring a great spiritual awakening to our land.
5. Be Slow to Speak. Though there are words to say and words that should be said, we should remember that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. This is not the time to make political hay--regardless of what side of the fence you are on. In the midst of tragedy we need to look to ultimate things even as we extend temporal comforts. The time to debate whether teachers should be armed is not today. There are tears to be dried, people to be embraced and a gospel to be applied. Today is a time to weep, a time to comfort and a time to use suffering to point us to the Savior.
6. Exalt Christ. What do we have to offer to a nation gripped by grief? We have a sympathetic Savior. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16, NKJV). Jesus, the Son of God, is fully God and He is fully man. In the one person of Jesus Christ is united two natures. The Son of God is eternal--He has always existed. However, He did not always have a human nature. The Christmas story is about the Son of God (very God of very God) adding to His divine nature a human nature in one person. It is right to say that Jesus is fully God (he has the full nature of God). Jesus is fully man (he has the full/unfallen nature of man). The two natures are distinct but are personally united in one person. The Son of God descended from heaven's glories to make a bed in a manger, to walk the dusty roads of Galilee, to overcome the fierce and constant battering of temptation, to humble himself all the way to the cross and to be raised from the dead. Jesus is the sympathetic Savior, meaning that he suffers with us. He is sympathetic to His children. The message that we have to a grieving people is "come to Christ and find rest" (Matthew 11:25-30). There is a sympathetic Savior whose arms are opened wide to receive those who weep.