The World is Going to the Dogs and Why Maybe That Would Be a Good Thing1
Hope Weekly 10.01.12
The World Is Going to the Dogs and Why Maybe That Would Be a Good Thing
The Fox News headline says that two 2nd grade girls were found murdered in Zion, Illinois today.
These best friends went out to ride their bikes together and never came back. Some despicable, evil bastard stabbed them multiple times and left them for dead.
In an unrelated Fox News story, a stray dog in Nairobi, Kenya found an abandoned newborn baby in the forest and carried her back to her own litter of pups. The dog got the baby girl out of the plastic bag she was put in, carried her out of the woods, across a busy street and through a barbed wire fence into a shed where her own puppies were. The 7 pound 4 ounce infant is now in the care of hospital workers who have named her “Angel”.
Adults are supposed to protect the young, murdered kids and abandoned babies in the forest. What does it say about our human condition when a stray dog demonstrated a better understanding of care and nurture than we do?
Some say the world is going to the dogs. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Murder. A mafia hit is something we can make sense of. When Guido gets popped in the head while eating seafood linguine at the neighborhood ristorante because he spilled the “family” secrets to the Feds, we get that. When someone goes postal and brings a shotgun to work looking for the boss who made his life miserable, we shake our head and say we could never react that way but we think, “Some people just get pushed too far and then they snap.” Gang bangers wage turf wars and kill each other in drive-by shootings. It’s a tremendous waste of potential, but we say, ala Karl Marx, “environment determines expression” and we can sort of understand the tragic cycle.
Second grade girls haven’t lived long enough to betray secrets or experience pent up, trigger happy anger or make their territory with a Glock. Second grade girls watch Rugrats and Sponge Bob Square Pants on TV and show each other the shiny tassels on their handlebars and think it’s oh so grown up to have a tube of glittery watermelon lip gloss in their pink Barbie backpack.
When Guido sleeps with the fishes and quiet Bob goes off with the 12-gauge and Paco shoots Jimmy while he’s washing his street rod, we shake our heads. But we sort of get it.
When innocent second grade girls are murdered, there’s nothing to get but absolutely, completely livid. In an “I want to kill whoever did that” way.
Think it’s a little extreme to feel that way? I don’t. A couple years ago someone asked me what I would do if someone tried to hurt my little daughters. I said, “Whoever it is, better know Jesus because I’ll kill them so fast they won’t have time to get saved.” The questioner backed away slowly. I guess it wasn’t the response he was expecting. I make no apology for being Papa Bear. God put me here to take care of my cubs and this I will do, to the death if need be.
How does one not be Christ-like when responding to evil? How is a Christian to respond to gut wrenching headlines like this? Don’t be too quick with the Sunday School answer that “God loves the killer, too.” Yes, God does. Theologically, that’s correct. And for the families of these girls, it’s a truth that’s hollow as an old dead stump. God is also the creator of life. I can’t imagine He is anything but angry and heart shredded by their senseless deaths.
It’s maddening though. Because God does love the killer. My human mind rants and rails against it, but it’s true. God’s offer to forgiveness and mercy is on the table for all of humanity. Even the ones who murder little girls. And in the statement lies both the evidence and my conviction. “Even the ones…” It betrays a mindset that deep down believes some sinners are worse than others. And of course I place myself in the “not as bad as they” category. How could I be as bad as the evil maniac who murdered these girls?
I may not be as bad, but it’s not about being bad. It’s about falling short. God says we all fall short of His perfection. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
My prideful attitude, my occasional outburst of anger, my lustful thought, my desire for “more” at the expense of contentment, take your pick. Any one of these sins causes me to fall short of God’s perfection. Which means on my own merit, I don’t have a relationship with God and I don’t see heaven. No, I’ve never killed anyone. But in a long jump contest at the rim of the Grand Canyon, there are no winners.
Only when we get up close to our own dirt do we realize the benevolent, gracious love of God. Romans 5:8 says that “God showed His great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Southern Baptist preacher/writer Will Campbell paraphrases the verse this way. “We’re all bastards. But God loves us anyway.
Todd A Thompson
“A Slice of Life To Go”