When God created the Universe – the sun, moon and stars; the planets; the sky and clouds; the water and the land; all the animals, fish, birds and everything else that fills Creation – He looked upon it all and consider “very good.” Unfortunately, the world around us doesn’t feel very good.
Our world is, in fact, extremely broken. It is one of the impacts of the Fall and sin of mankind. Not only were Adam and Eve condemned because of their sin, so was Creation itself. Paul says it is “frustrated” as it waits with “hope” to be “liberated from its bondage to decay” and to be “brought into … freedom and glory” (Romans 8:20-21 NIV).
Until the day when Creation is reborn free and glorious, we all live in the midst of this horrid brokenness. We see it on the news, whether it’s far on the other side of the world, or just down the street. Yet our Christian hearts appear untouched by the turmoil and struggle around us appear.
How can this be so? Isn’t the heartbeat of Heaven supposed to be beating with us? If we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, living not in ourselves but the life of Christ in us, shouldn’t we be heartbroken? Shouldn’t we be in tears?
The Weeping Prophet
This week I read the book of Lamentations in my personal devotion time. Jeremiah wrote Lamentations after the fall of Jerusalem. The Babylonians had laid siege to the city for months. Water and food supplies were scarce. The situation was so bad that children died in the streets or in their mothers’ arms, wondering why there was no food to keep their little bodies alive. The conditions became so intense that Jeremiah tells of these same mothers resorting to cannibalism so they could stay alive.
Tragedy struck from the least to the greatest. The king was dragged off in chains. Soldiers were slaughtered. Priests and heads of families died from the famine or were captured and exiled. The walls were destroyed and the gates burned. Babylonians soldiers cackled as they tore down God’s holy Temple.
What was the prophet’s response to the tragedy all around him? Tears.
I have cried until the tears no longer come;
my heart is broken.
My spirit is poured out in agony
as I see the desperate plight of my people.
Little children and tiny babies
are fainting and dying in the streets.
(Lamentations 2:11, NLT)
Streams of tears flow from my eyes
because my people are destroyed.
My eyes will flow unceasingly,
until the LORD looks down
from heaven and sees.
(Lamentations 3:48–50, NIV)
What Has Happened to Our Hearts?
As I read the lines of Lamentations, I wanted to cry. Is our world very different? Isn’t there as much tragedy and pain around us? But where are our tears? Where are our prayers? Here are 5 reasons our hearts remain unbroken, unaffected by the suffering of the world around us:
1. We are desensitized. The first reason we aren’t affected is because we don’t notice the pain and suffering. It’s everywhere. You’ve probably heard or said something like, “Don’t turn on the news. It’s all bad anyway.” Our world is filled with it. Just like so many other evils that creep into our hearts, we are indifferent to the troubles of those around us because everyone around us has troubles.
2. We are isolated. Christians are notorious for isolating ourselves from the world around us. We tend to live in little bubbles, spending most of our time outside of work and family doing “churchy” things. The problem is we have cut ourselves off from the world that desperately needs us. They are in darkness and we have the Light. They are lost and we know the Way. Their lives are headed for death and we are supposed to be pointing them to the Life. But as long as we remain isolated, not only do the Earth and those living on it miss out on the slice of Heaven we carry around, but we remain untouched by their need.
[tweetthis]When the #Church is isolated the world misses out on Heaven and we are untouched by its #need.[/tweetthis]
3. We believe they deserve it. Let’s be honest now. How many times have you heard about someone’s troubles and thought, “Well, maybe if they hadn’t chosen to …” or “That’s what they get for …”? Shame on us. We condemn people to remain in their filth and trouble because we think they deserve it. Have we truly forgotten the truth of Grace? God offers forgiveness to His enemies and love to those opposed to Him? What did we do to deserve it? Instead we are like the servant who was forgiven much but holds the debts of others over them (see Matthew 18:21-35).
4. We just don’t understand. I grew up in a Christian home and gave my life to Jesus early. There are so many things I have never been exposed to or experienced because of it. To hear about the ravages of the world on people’s lives makes me sad, angry and amazed all at the same time. The sheer depth of evil flabbergasts me. Sometimes we think we know what people are going through because we have experienced something “similar.” We have to be careful not to minimize the pain of others because of our lack of personal experience in the same difficulties.
5. We are on the defensive. Finally, some of just are too locked away to be touched by the harsh realities of life around us. This isn’t just living in a bubble, hiding from the truth. To be on the defensive means we are aware of the danger, so we build high walls and thick gates to keep out any harm that could come through. Maybe we’ve been hurt before and vowed to ourselves not to let it happen again. Or maybe we think we are being prudent in keeping the world and its issues at arm’s length. Whatever the reason, we have locked ourselves in fortresses of “safety” in an effort to live unscathed by the world’s darkness.
[tweetthis]The #Church has locked itself in a fortresses of “safety” hoping to remain unscathed by darkness.[/tweetthis]
* * *
I can’t help but think of how Jesus reacted to the needs of the world around Him. While we can’t be exactly like Jesus, we should still seek to follow His example. To be His disciple means more than praying like He taught us or going toe-to-toe with Pharisees. It also involves love and compassion, even when the world around us seems utterly filled with suffering.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
(Matthew 9:36, NIV)
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13–14, NIV)
If those who know God do not cry out to Him on behalf of the lives around them, who will? We need to get beyond these five barriers and open ourselves to the plight of a world waiting to be renewed. That day is coming. Until then, we are meant to be the agents of Heaven on Earth.