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January 8th, 2015
Well, the weather outside may soon be frightful, treacherous enough to be a concern for our gathering(s) Sunday (worship and corporate prayer). You Northerners may keep to yourself your chuckling–your icy, sardonic glances–about our collective wintry panic.
As of now (Thursday) forecasters are envisioning the possibility of frozen precipitation falling from Friday through Sunday morning. But if you’ve lived in Texas long enough you know how those forecasts can turn on a dime. So check back on the website over the weekend to see what decisions we’ve made. We’ll likely make a final determination sometime late Saturday night, at which time we might also send out a church-wide email. If you know someone who might not be as online-centric, you might give them a call. Thanks.
What happened Wednesday was only the most recent evidence of how the world is one big powder-keg, primed to explode somewhere—anywhere—without warning, and unleashing both havoc and hysteria. Twelve people lay dead in or near the offices of a French satirical magazine Wednesday afternoon in Paris, the victims of extremists incensed by the publication’s parodic illustrations both of esteemed imams and of the Prophet Muhammad himself.
The magazine had experienced violence in response to their cartoons before, when a firebomb exploded in 2011—that, too, perpetrated by those fiercely interested in protecting the reputation of the Prophet. So as heinous and reprehensible as Wednesday’s murderous actions are, they are not entirely inconceivable—only a “logical” progression of trying to make a definitive end to what they perceived as monstrous disrespect.
To live in a world like this one is to have to accept not just its unpredictability, but its unpredictably unconscionable expressions. It is to come to terms not just with how life can change in an instant, but how it can maim you (or worse) forever instantly. The world is shocked by what’s happened, but not as shocked as it perhaps should be, not as scandalized as we’d hope to be in a world where we’d hope things like this would never happen. But it did happen and it’s hard to imagine a future, at least in the near-term, in which horrors like this won’t continue.
How then do we live in a world like this, tempted to extremes of retaliation or resignation? How in particular do those who believe–not just that there is God but that He is acquainted, interested, and invested in this world–live in view of that bold premise? Can the premise hold in a world teeming with ostensibly random, unchecked violence? And if it can bear the weight of scrutiny, how do we plausibly live without merely paying lip-service to it?
Last Sunday we began a series on the wisdom of God. Wisdom, we argued, is doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons. The wise are those who take as much of reality as possible into account and live unflinchingly in view of it. The Proverbs offer us succinct, pithy notions that unearth the deepest parts of reality. They teach us, among other things, how to relate, how to speak, how to love, and how to lead. We made sure to clarify that the Proverbs are not formulaic in nature; they do not mechanically yield certain outcomes based on adherence to them. But they do chart a path toward the maturity–one that leads to life in full.
This Sunday we’ll look at several texts whose theme centers on how to live in this world which is both unpredictable and yet also overseen by Providence. We didn’t need Wednesday’s events to corroborate the former; we’ll need God himself to answer Wednesday’s refutation of the latter. I don’t mean to trivialize what occurred Wednesday, but there’s a moment early in Frodo’s quest when he asks the question so many ask after a horror like what happened in Paris occurs: how do we live in a world full of evil designs? We’ll begin Sunday when Frodo’s wise wizard answered Frodo amid his interior swirl of both revenge and despair. It was counsel that later shaped the deciding that had to be done.
Despite abundant evidence to the contrary, we have reason to agree with Gandalf’s wise assessment: “there are other forces at work in this world beside evil.” We believe that truth not simply because we hope that it is true, but because we’ve entrusted ourselves to the One who entered into the darkness of death and emerged on the other side of it, vanquishing it, and marking it for eventual destruction. Some have rightly noted the reprehensible examples of faith in history, but it’s the faith rightly ordered that breaks the cycle of violence and offers courage in the wake of it.
A couple community items of note:
1. Join us Sunday night in corporate prayer for wisdom for many things and many people, near and far. We’ll have prayers for wisdom cards available Sunday you can fill out and bring with you, or drop in the offering plate so we can pray for you if you can’t make it.
2. If you’re a regular, recent attendee of CtK, you should’ve received an invitation to our next Introduction to CtK Saturday “sit-down.” For more details about the event, click here. We hope you’ll join us.
be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, “A faithful man who can find?” may not be partly fulfilled in me.
— Jonathan Edwards (@ResolvedTo) January 7, 2015
It’s fitting that we should pray
- for Paris, Parisians, for those who perpetrated the murder, and for the church there
- for mourners in Malaysia
- for officer candidates continuing their training
- for those considering membership in CtK