This article is excerpted from a post last week by Jarrod McKenna on Red Letter Christians. I recommend reading the entire article here. This section spoke to me so powerfully when I read it yesterday that I felt I needed to share it.
Over 10,000 people are excepted to die as a result of the earthquake in Japan while smug prideful tweets from both camps fly back and forward.
10,000 will only be number until we allow ourselves to lament.
In sharing in God’s grief this number is transformed into precious lives.
Maybe it’s easier to argue online that it is to get on our knees and experience the blessing of mourning for a world so broken.
Maybe we secretly hope our arguments will protect us from taking up our cross and following Jesus into the pain of our world.
Maybe the numbness we think protects us from overwhelming grief in fact just keeps us from God’s empowering compassion. The word compassion comes from the latin, meaning; to suffer with. Our God is a God that is not far off but in Jesus has suffered with us, and for us, so we, by grace, can be compassionate as the Triune God is compassionate and enter into the suffering of our world.
Unlike the cheap speculations and accusations on twitter, to love those suffering in Japan, in Libya, in New Zealand, in Haiti, in Bahrain, in Yemen, in Australia, in Pakistan, and those sufferings elsewhere and everywhere (including not far from us in our own cities) will costs us. Grace is free yet it cost God everything. And to witness to God’s grace always means denying ourselves and taking up our cross. As our community said together tonight in evening prayer, “Lord set our hearts to sing your praise and our bodies to do your will.” Theology is not only about what we think, it’s about how we live. And by grace, God’s Holy Spirit empowers us to live Christ’s Calvary-shaped love to our broken world.
I haven’t had a chance to read Love Wins yet, I still want to hold out hope that Rob Bell will creatively, movingly and lovingly defend with strong exegesis a biblical understanding of “the New Heavens and New Earth” in the light of God’s very nature and glory being revealed scandalously in the crucified and risen Christ. (Yes, I’m increasingly aware this might not be the book I’m looking for… I’ll stick with N.T. Wright). I did catch one journalist ask Rob Bell regarding Japan “Which of these are true, either God is all powerful but does not care about the people of Japan and therefore they are suffering, or He does care about the about the people of Japan but he’s not all powerful?”