For decades the horrors of the holocaust shocked us. We wondered how people could be so cruel to other humans. But today we witness genocide, murder and slaughter on an unprecedented global scale. The atrocities of ISIL threaten to spread like a cancer. Over four million people have fled Syria, seeking safety in Turkey, Europe and the West. Our hearts and our prayers go out to the people of France, the latest victims in what is becoming an increasingly violent century.
The violence is more widespread than ISIL. In June a young white man gunned down the pastor and eight other members of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC after being welcomed to their church for Bible study. In Oregon police called for as many ambulances as possible after a 26-year-old man opened fire at a community college killing nine.
In Houston a law officer was murdered in cold blood while filling his car with gas. As of this writing, 109 law enforcement personnel have been killed in the line of duty in 2015.
We are experiencing racial unrest in the U.S. not seen since the 1960s. Charges of police brutality have resulted in race riots in Baltimore, MD and Ferguson, MO. Protests broke out in Waller, TX following the jail-cell death of Sandra Bland. University of Missouri students forced their President to resign charging him with racial insensitivity.
The Russian writer and Nobel prize winner, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote: "But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive.”
Twenty years ago David Aikman, former senior correspondent for Time magazine, said, “I don't think the country can be changed through politics ... it can be changed by the kind of awakening or revival that has such a dramatic effect that politics is merely an outflow, the kind of awakening spiritually that this country has seen on at least two previous occasions, and the place to start is among Christians. Their lives must reflect a serious cultural difference from the rest of a pagan society." The spiritual awakening Aikman envisioned has not occurred. Instead, our world seems to be sinking into the dark waters of fear, suspicion, prejudice, deceit, immorality and violence.
But the tide can be stemmed. The world can be a place of goodness, grace, forgiveness, love and beauty. We can refuse to give in to the cultural currents that seek to destroy us. We can rise above them. The Bible promises, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).