sin Tag

The past few days have made me sad. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, comment threads on news articles, conversations outside Starbucks...everywhere I look, everywhere I am, I hear anger. Hatred. Even rage. At the same time, I hear hurt. Pain. Sadness. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding homosexual marriage, it's all over the place. I know you've seen it too. I'm not assigning a certain behavior, action, attitude or feeling to one "side" or another. I see it all on both "sides" of the issue. This past week, I've heard one phrase more than almost any other. I've seen Christians, even well-intentioned, compassionate, grace-giving Christ-followers, use this phrase:

"Love the sinner, hate the sin."

But is it working?

As far back as I can remember, I've always had a very particular perception of Jesus. I don't think my version of Jesus was shaped by any particular person or event more than any other. Just years and years of filtering and layering and processing that have all worked together to create a finished product that fits my mold. My version of Jesus was a white guy. I don't mean that to be racist in any way. That's just how I grew up picturing Him in my mind. Maybe you did too. Probably had something to do with all the Bible bookstore paintings that hang on walls of churches and homes of people who like Bible bookstore paintings.

This is not a post about ISIS. I know the title would suggest differently, but this post isn't about ISIS and it's not about politics. See, I've been reading a lot about ISIS, and often when I read an article online I check out some of the reader comments below. I've read so many comments full of hatred and anger. The sad part is that so much of it isn't even directed toward ISIS, but toward other readers, but hey, that's for another blog post. A week or two ago, I read an article about the 21 Christians that were beheaded on the beach and one of the comments, apparently written by a believer, struck a chord:

"I just keep telling myself that this must be part of God's plan."

Since then I feel like I've read or heard that same thought echoed by a lot of other people. Maybe I'm just noticing it more now that I saw it once. But I've been thinking about that. When bad things, terrible things, the absolute worst kinds of unthinkable things happen to good people, is it part of God's plan?

I first wrote this blog post in April 2013 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. I had a conversation with a friend today that prompted me to share this again. 
As I write this, images, stories and news bulletins continue to emerge in the wake of the unthinkable tragedy at the Boston Marathon yesterday. Last night I was looking through some pictures online and I was literally speechless. My stomach hurt. I couldn't stand to see any more. I was filled with an incredible sense of anger at the injustice in all of this. I felt helpless to do anything about it, which only amplified the anger I felt. There's really no other word to describe the feeling. It only got worse when I read about 8-year-old Martin Richard, who lost his life in the attack. An innocent child, enjoying the race and cheering on the runners with his family. Only the most evil of people could take the life of a child in this way. I am so angry as I write this that I can barely type. I can't wrap my mind around what motivates this kind of horrible action. Someone asked me this morning if it's wrong for Christians to be angry. He had been told growing up that anyone who is truly a follower of Jesus doesn't get angry, and he wanted to know if the fact that he was feeling what I had been feeling about all of this meant that he had done something wrong, or that his faith was weaker than he thought. You might be wondering the same thing. Is it ok for Christians to be angry?

Six days. You would think that creating everything, literally everything, in only six days would be hard work. No time for union breaks with that kind of schedule. The universe, all of the galaxies in existence, including our own. Planets. Sun. Moon. Stars. Water. Dry land. Animals. Birds. People. That's a long to-do list for only six days. Sounds tough. Sounds exhausting, right? Not for God. The Bible says that He created it all just by speaking it into existence. That's the power of God. Just a word is all it takes for Him to make something out of nothing, and for it to be just right on the first try. So why did God rest on the seventh day? If it wasn't an exhausting process for Him, and if He is so powerful that creation was not only easy but most likely fun for Him, then why did He need to rest on that last day of the creation week?