Newbold Devotionals - Manchester Bombing 23rd May 2017
Saturday 27th May 2017
The Manchester Blast - A Christian Response?
On Tuesday morning I travelled in to work and was reading with dread about the barbaric and callous act that had been carried out the evening before at the Manchester Arena. Over the years, we have seen a number of these atrocities being carried out around the world. However this time it was on our doorstep, and it seemed so much more real. Young children and families targeted and attacked in a monstrous incident.
And then when I got to work, the reality of the impact started to hit home. We had staff and students who were present at the Manchester Arena on the Monday night. We had students who knew of friends who had been present the night before, and had no idea of their safety. We had youngsters turning up to school in tears, feeling fearful of what had taken place the night before. And then the news none of us wanted to hear came through on Wednesday; a local girl to the school, who was friends with many of our pupils, had sadly passed away during the attack.
We had a number of youngsters seeking an ear to listen to them; seeking prayer; seeking answers! And this has been the reaction around Greater Manchester and indeed the UK since Monday. People are desperate for answers!
One of the biggest challenges I have found through the week is what my response should be as a born again believer. All week I haven't been able to get the Chris Tomlin song 'God of this City' out of my mind. In the song it says, "You're the Light in this darkness, You're the hope to the hopeless, You're the peace to the restless, You are."
This week we have seen the darkness; those who are without hope and who are searching for peace. We have seen the tears of a community and a nation, and we can see the broken hearted. And yet, it is at these times more than ever that the church needs to stand and be the representation of Christ in a broken community that God has called us to be! Where there is darkness, God is Light! Where there is a sense of hopelessness, God is Hope! Where there is restlessness, God is Peace! For those who are broken-hearted, it says in Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." And in Psalm 147:3 says "He (God) heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds."
And so it is God, through Christ, who brings the light into the darkness! It is God, through Christ, who brings hope to the hopeless! It is God, through Christ, who brings peace to the restless. And it is God, through Christ, who heals the broken-hearted. And so as the Body of Christ, what is our right response to be in the face of Monday night, and in response to those around us seeking answers, seeking hope and seeking peace?
At times like this, we need to stand firm in the faith that we have and take the truth of the Gospel of Christ out into a broken community seeking answers.
Matthew 5:14-15 says "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." And in John 8:12, Jesus says "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
If you are a follower of Christ, He says that YOU have the light of life! Jesus is the light of the world, and those who follow Him will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life! They will be the carriers of the light that shines into the darkness and brings life! The question is; are we going to be those that hide that light under a bowl? Or are we going to be those that stand and allow that light to shine before others? Are we going to be those in the midst of tragedy and despair that bring the light of hope and that bring the message of salvation to those around us? It is salvation in Christ, and in Christ alone that brings a living hope into people's lives, and that brings a peace that transcends all understanding by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only that living hope and that peace by the Spirit of God that is needed! And so therefore it is vital that in these days, the church is the light of God, shining brightly into the darkness and brining the message of salvation that is available through Christ Jesus.
Over the years, the word 'radical' has become a 'dirty word'. The word radical now comes with the connotations of violence, harm and death. On Monday evening in Manchester, we saw an act of 'radicalism'. And so therefore, I can't help but feel that over time, the church has become 'moderate' in an attempt to not be seen as 'radical' with the negative connotations that come with that word. For one of a better way of putting it, we have come to a place of being comfortable and going through the motions.
However, we are not called to be moderate followers of Christ, and we are not called to be those that merely go through the motions day by day. We are called to be radical followers of Christ! And so in these days, the church needs to return to being a church of radical followers.
Here is the key question! What are we called to be radical in? If you are a follower of Christ, you are called to be radical in love! Radical in compassion! Radical in kindness! Radical in care for others! And, you are called to be carriers of a radical message! And all the above is towards those who are hurting, grieving, questioning. Itís to be towards our loved ones and our neighbours. And it is to be towards our enemies! There was nothing moderate about Jesus during his time and ministry on earth. He was radical! And we are called to be Christ-like!
So my plea to the church in these days is to move away from a moderate position and to return to the radical life that we have been called to through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
And finally, we need to be a House of Prayer! In these days, more than ever, we need to come to the Lord in prayer. He hears our requests and hears our cries! We need to be the church that lifts up the lost, the hurt and the broken-hearted before God in prayer! We need to be the church that lifts up our loved ones in prayer! We need to be the church that lifts up our neighbours in prayer! We need to be the church that lifts our enemies in prayer!
We need to pray for all who have been impacted, who have lost loved ones. We need to lift up the emergency services; the police, the paramedics, the fire fighters. We need to lift up in prayer our leaders, our MP's, the government. We need to pray for wisdom and understanding. We need to pray for Muslims and all those without Christ, that the scales are removed from their eyes. And going back to that Chris Tomlin song: we need to remember this at all times "There is no one like our God".
So let me encourage you more than ever:
And remember: In all things, and at all times: God is in control!
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