Sadly, once again, London has been the target of a terrorist attack. The shocking thing is that, in some ways, this should no longer surprise us. It’s a fact that there are elements out there that want to attack our democratic system of government and way of life, and whether we can understand it or not they believe they have a perfect right to do so! No doubt there will be much said over the next few days and weeks, in connection with this attack and others that are occurring around the world. The Prime Minister Teresa May, responding to the attack of 22/3/17 called it a: ‘sick and depraved terrorist attack on the streets of our Capital’ and no doubt that is how the vast majority of people will see it and react to these attacks.
Let’s be clear, all these attacks are terrible events and our hearts and prayers are with those who have suffered loss or are concerned about loved ones who have been injured. But what is the real issue that leads someone to attack someone else’s ideology or to try and force their own ideology on them? The Bible hits a nerve in the way as it sums up the reason for this kind of evil behavior.
‘What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions’ (James 4:1-3).
These verses really sum up the human condition, whether it’s manifested in the extreme nature of acts of terrorism, murder, stealing or in the petty grudges that people sometimes harbour (sometimes for years) against neighbours, former friends or even family! In the end the issue is the one behind all sin, self! Our sin always leads to us putting our self first regardless of other people’s feelings or rights! As we have already noted, much is going to be said about the nature and causes of terrorism, but in the end the issue is the destructive and rebellious nature of the human heart. As the prophet Jeremiah notes: ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9).However the good news is God has given us a cure for the human heart. This is a cure that works for the terrorist, several former IRA terrorists have been converted when they sought forgiveness for their sins during their time in prison and have renounced their violent pasts, right down to those who’s petty squabbles and grudges can so sour their and others lives for year after year! So the wonderful thing is that this cure can work for anyone!
‘For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.’ (Titus 3:4-7).
It’s God’s grace and his action that is the solution to the problem of the human heart. In the end that is a cure for every kind of sin that can separate us from God and so sour our lives and bring heartache and division in this damage world! Much will be said to do with this atrocity and other incidents of terrorism in the days, months and years to come. But the real and lasting solution to the human heart’s rebellion against God is found in the saving work of Christ on the cross!
The subject of suffering is dealt with in more detail in the book ‘Where is God when Things go Wrong.’ You can find this on the Any Questions? page if you would like to order a free copy. The sermon The Storm Subsides. also touches on the subject as does A Response to the Terrorist Attack of 22/3/17: What did Jesus say when Questioned about Evil and Suffering?