"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. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."
My friend and his brother were murdered by radicals yesterday morning (See accompanying article. Warning the Pakistan Christian Post doesn't soften the blow by failing to tell the truth through pictures like our American press does. The site contains graphic pictures).
Pakistani Christian Post
That alone is enough to cause despair, but it is exacerbated by the reality that this kind of thing happens everyday in the world. As a matter of fact, as I kept perusing the internet for stories in regards to my imprisoned friends, I kept getting the headline story of a girl that was raped and tossed out of the window of her apartment building in Islamabad for being a Christian. My reaction was “That’s horrible; I can’t believe that! Now where is the information about my friends?” I kept wondering why they weren’t “Headline News?” Yesterday they became just that, and it’s all I have been able to think about!
As humans we are guarded with self-preservation mechanisms that allow us to filter the horror of everyday existence, yet ironically, scripture doesn’t let us do that. I have been reading through the horrific battles in the book of Joshua, and the Psalms and Lamentations (To name a few) that continually remind me of the reality of this world, and the suffering that always exists around us; but “Enlightened” thinkers changed all that by “Getting rid” of human suffering by selling us a version of the world that is progressing rather nicely. The funny thing about it is our churches are marching in step with the same sanitized message of “Progress,” because that’s the reality in a world run by humans. Aren’t we progressing? Isn’t the world becoming a better place? I suppose that’s up for debate, but I suggest holding your opinion until you weigh all the facts. Biblically we are told that the gospel is advancing at the same time Satan and sin vie for the hearts and minds of God’s creation. There is a spiritual war being fought rather fiercely, or did our soft sermonettes that espouse a blessed “Christian” life cloud our thinking (See Ephesians 6:10-18). Biblical eschatology dominated by either flying away Christians or victorious warriors ushering in an age of utopia are either too simplistic or were shaped in a post enlightenment idealistic elixir. There is no doubt Jesus is coming back to usher in His kingdom, but until that time there is suffering this side of paradise until that kingdom is realized, and Christians are not exempt from this tribulation.
Oh, of course we can just blame these little glitches in the Truman Show the way Christopher Hitchens and his band of “new Atheists” do; “This is just the work of religion, and once we rid the world of these nut jobs, then the world will be the way it’s supposed to be!” In one sense I firmly agree, religion most often is the bane to humanity, but isn’t this banter just exchanging one human mistake for another? Is humanity really the answer if it was humanity that created religion? Why would we suppose Chris and his boys have it right this time? Sure, we Christians should get on board that blame game and say it’s not “All” religions that are to blame, just those evil ones that don’t fit our ideas of God. "It's those Muslim folk that are really to blame.!" Of course to do so, wouldn’t we need to forget a long lined of inquisitions, burnings at the stake, abortion doctor murders, etc…? Oh, yeah, those weren't really “Christians!?” How convenient!
Or maybe the real anatomy of a murder lies in the heart of every human, who “desires” more than we can have, so our jealousies cause us to participate in a multitude of sins? Isn’t this what our text in James expresses? “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” When do we stop blaming that tribe "Over there" in our attempts to conjure up solutions to the world's "Glitches" and realize this is what sin really looks like 24/7! Maybe it's time to stop trying to make ourselves look better, and realize the problem is within, and that we are all sinners in the need of God’s grace; but when we set up the "us vs. them" mentality that many Christians are as guilty of as Hitchens et al., we mitigate the power of the gospel, and create a hatred that continues this cycle of violence and hate that only the gospel (Both proclaimed and lived) can destroy! Let's stop acting as the world acts, which is a blame game for our world's toughest problems, and stop vilifying cultures that are different, and start living a bit like that Gospel ethic Jesus talked about in Matthew 5-7? Oh yeah, that's an ethic for the future, not now though!!