Several people have mentioned to me their dismay that a number of notable people have made fun and mocked the Christian response to the tragic church shooting in Texas recently. The Huffington Post ran an article that included comments such as these: “If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive.” “To all those asking for thoughts and prayers for the victims in [the church shooting], it seems that your direct line to God is not working.” “Clearly your prayers aren’t working if a mass shooting can take place in a church.” “They were in church. Prayers are not helpful.” “Your prayers are worthless.”
On the surface, all of these people were calling for government solutions to this kind of evil. God has created governments just for this very purpose, and we need to pray that they will help to curb those who commit such terrible crimes. But beneath the surface there is a Nietzsche-esce view of life in which God is not real or helpful. They mock those who pray because they deny God’s existence. People who pray are disgusting to them just as prayerful Christians were disgusting to the German philosopher Nietzsche. He saw no use in trusting God to help. In fact, he saw Christianity as a detriment to society because, in his mind, it made men weak. But Nietzsche’s personal life was a disaster and so it has been for most of those who have tried to live by his philosophy.
Christianity is anything but weak. We pray for God’s help not because we are helpless to do anything. We pray because, in this case, the problem is truly spiritual. This attack on these Christians was an example of evil in action. Humans can and must face down evil and try to curb it. But no human will ever be able to solve the problem of evil. We pray for faith, wisdom and courage to live our lives according to God’s will in a world dominated by spiritual forces that are adamantly opposed to God’s will.
We will fight this good fight to the end. Christianity will not die away even if every single Christian is ultimately put to the sword. For what may look like weakness to the world will soon be vindicated by God’s judgment. Throughout the Bible there are references to this reality as John saw in his vision of those who will come out of the great tribulation (Revelation 9.9ff). God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. But for the world that denied Him and mocked Him, there will be nothing to see but endless tears of bitterness and despair.
Message for Evening Prayer, November 8, 2017