Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, China, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, George Tiller, BTK; the list could go on for far too long. These people have tortured, torn apart, burned, hung, imprisoned, and/or executed up to millions of people. It didn’t matter if the people were old or young, rich or poor, male or female; they were all senselessly murdered… But those who murdered them did not think it was senseless at all; they always had a purpose and/or motivation behind their actions.
Some people were murdered because they were not in the right social class and/or they did not have the right cultural and ethnic heritage. Some people were murdered because they didn’t share the most widely accepted religion, or because they were considered to be pests or hindrances to growth.
Every ruler, individual, or regime had a reason for what they did. Looking back at the toll of deaths, it is easy to see that their reasons were insane and completely nonsensical, but no one could have convinced them of the truth. Their hearts were callous, dark, and evil; but don’t think for a second that any heart is beyond such brutality.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Within each one of us, there is the potential to do great and terrible things, whether good or evil. Every murderer starts out as a child, seemingly innocent, but for some reason, they grow up to commit heinous crimes against the human race.
We can blame environment, upbringing, guardians, mental health, or other outside forces, but no reason justifies the act of murder.
God laid this topic on my heart after I watched a little bit of The Book Thief. I have seen that movie before, and many others like it. But I find it interesting that this topic should enter my thoughts just before I hear about Otto Warmbier.
The North Korean regime returned Otto to his family after a year and a half in their prison system, and he died shortly after arriving home. Otto had been in a coma since March 2016, but his family did not learn of that until this month, June 2017. There is a lot of controversy surrounding Otto’s death, a lot of blame towards him, but I will not be so insensitive as to justify his death, and thereby side with the cruel regime that held him.
People die every day at the hands of cruel men and women, and too many people sit on the sidelines, judging who was right and who was wrong. But in my mind, the matter is simple; someone was murdered, so the murderer is in the wrong. If the murdered person did not seriously harm or murder someone else, nor was intending to do so, then the one (or ones) who killed them were not bringing justice, but committing murder.
Lately, there has been a lot of violence here in America, where defenseless and unprepared citizens have been injured or killed by other citizens. I don’t know all the reasons behind the murders and attacks; all I know is that some people who never seriously injured or murdered anyone else (and never intended to) were murdered or injured.
When citizens die at the hands of a cruel regime or dictator, their deaths are shortly mourned and they are completely forgotten. Here in the United States, their deaths might show up in the news for a little while, but they quickly fade off the radar of most people. It is impossible to know the names of every ruthlessly murdered soul, especially since millions of those murdered may never have had names, yet we can still choose to remember them and ensure that their deaths were not in vain.
But how? How can we bring meaning to the deaths of millions, or even to the death of one?
The only way I have found to bring meaning into the blind insanity of this world is to shine Christ’s light; encouraging dark and sinful hearts to find forgiveness and newness of life in Jesus Christ.
I, the LORD, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10)
If an individual chooses to live in sin, whether that sin be murder, lust, lying, or any other sin, they will die and go to hell, receiving the just reward for their chosen pursuit in life. But if an individual repents, turns away from sin, and follows Jesus Christ with their whole heart, then their heart will be transformed by the power of Christ and their eternity will be spent in Heaven, in the presence of God Almighty. Salvation does not mean that suffering will cease, because there will still be hearts that choose to live in darkness. Salvation means that hope never dies, that pain can be turned into life, and that death is not just another sorrow, but the continuation of eternal life with Christ.
So, when I preach the Gospel, or when any of my brothers and sisters in Christ preach the Gospel, we are shining light into the darkness and bringing hope to the hopeless.
Murder does not make sense, but I know why it happens. Without Christ, life is meaningless and worthless, as well as death. Without Christ, such terms as brutality and sin would not exist, and neither would love, grace, mercy, or truth. In countries that suppress the teachings of Jesus Christ and burn the Holy Bible, the traditions of men are substituted for morals and ethics. Those traditions may seem good for a time, but they soon become warped, twisted, and work to the advantage of the power hungry. Propaganda reinforces those traditions; calling good, bad, and bad, good.
Though my government does not burn Bibles, yet it still allows its citizens to burn American flags and it suppresses the preaching of Jesus Christ in public schools. On the surface, those traditions may seem to have redeeming qualities: freedom of speech, freedom from a forced religion. But, over time, those traditions will further warp until preaching the Gospel in public areas will be illegal, and the display of Scripture on privately owned homes or businesses will be outlawed. This country may warp so far that it imprisons people who believe in Jesus Christ or punishes people who try to protect an American flag from being burned or torn down.
Our world is changing. What was once unmistakably cruel and wrong is now seen as justifiable and right in the eyes of some. But I pray that your eyes and your heart would not become twisted; that cruelty would never be seen as normal or justifiable in your sight and that your moral code would be found in the Holy Bible and not in the changing traditions of men.
It is important to know our limits, to know who we are. Every human being is desperately wicked, and each of us has the capability of being cruel men and women. But once we know who we are, the most important next step is to know Who Jesus is and to believe in Him as our Lord and Savior, because He paid the price for our sin and the darkness of our hearts, and He alone has the power to raise any soul from living death into eternal life.
Tears are still going to fall. The innocent will still be murdered. But for those who trust in Jesus, their tears do not fall needlessly, and their eternal souls will not be in misery, no matter the pain they suffer here on earth.
Humankind can be cruel, but may those who love Jesus cast off such cruelty and shine the love and hope they have found in Jesus Christ. May they show the world that evil will never gain the victory and that Jesus has already won.
May we wait, knowing that we do not wait, nor do we hope, in vain. Christ is coming back for His children, and He will be coming back with a sword in His fist. So, I pray, Lord Jesus, that cruel men and women would repent before that day and be ready for Your return. And I pray also for those who are being abused, that they would not lose heart, and that they would find life and refuge in You. Amen!
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