Scarcely a day goes by without yet another reminder of the ancient Roman phrase, Homo homini lupus est: man is a wolf to his fellow man. The terrible bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon — which, at the time of this recording, killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured at least 140 others — is just the latest graphic piece of evidence.
And the bombing is also further proof — as if we needed more — of what Christian writer Ed Stetzer calls “the brokenness in our fallen world.”
Yet Christians know that this is, at best, an incomplete depiction of man. Fallen men are capable of incredible — or, perhaps, all-too-credible — cruelty towards each other. But even in our fallen state, we are capable of just the opposite: overcoming evil with good.
As one of my colleagues pointed out, one of the most striking and certainly the most moving images coming out of Boston was of people rushing forward toward the sites of the explosions to help the injured.
The Archbishop of Boston, Sean O’Malley, spoke for many of us when he said that “the citizens of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are blessed by the bravery and heroism of many, particularly the men and women of the police and fire departments and emergency services who responded within moments of these tragic events.”
But it wasn’t only those in uniform. Carlos Arredondo, a peace activist whose son was killed in Iraq, became a national hero when he jumped over the security fence and started helping the injured. And he wasn’t the only civilian who ran towards the chaos when common sense dictated running away from it.
Watching the coverage, another colleague was not only inspired by the actions of those who rushed to the aid of the injured but also saw in their actions a metaphor of what it means to be the Church in a broken and fallen world.
As Ed Stetzer wrote, “it’s not enough for Christians merely to recognize that the world isn’t what it ought to be and that people are suffering in ways they shouldn’t have to suffer.” Instead, our “sorrow and indignation” should prompt us to act in ways that “subvert” that brokenness.
Our task is to “work to make this world more as God would intend it to be — with justice, peace, and more.” Or as Chuck Colson used to put it, our task is to make the invisible Kingdom visible.
Chuck loved to tell the story of how, when the great plagues struck Ancient Rome and the doctors fled the city, Christians stayed behind and cared for the sick, even though as a result some contracted the plague themselves and died. They saw this as part of what it meant to be God’s people in a suffering world. As a result of their witness, many pagans became Christians because they saw in this sacrificial love something that paganism could not offer.
That “something” was the invisible Kingdom now made visible.
Think of Mother Theresa. While other people abandoned the sick and dying of Calcutta, she embraced them. In doing so, she and her Missionaries of Charity made the invisible Kingdom visible one dying person at a time.
Every time Prison Fellowship volunteers reach out to a different kind of pariah — prisoners — they announce that this world’s brokenness is not final. God is at work setting things right.
One day, because of the resurrection of Jesus, it will all be set right. But for now, we keep running toward the chaos making visible to the world the invisible Kingdom of God that will one day fill the whole earth.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: April 18, 2013