It has taken me a few days to wrap my head around the events that unfolded in Manchester on Monday evening. For me writing is the way I process. In doing so I found myself revisiting some themes I penned on the tenth anniversary of 7/7. I pray you find them helpful….
Many just beginning their lives.
Many now suffering life limiting or life changing physical and psychological wounds.
The untold consequences of this trauma, fear and anguish are going to ripple through countless lives for decades to come.
Easy to type. Easy to read…
Yet when you dip into the stories and accounts of what happened, what it was really like at the epicentre of the terrorist’s bomb, it becomes uncomfortable.
Sickening! Disgusting! Unforgivable! All very understandable responses.
And then there is the tricky issue of ‘killing in the name of…’ and that debate is crying out to be held. Yes, countless crimes have been committed in the name of all kinds of deities but at the end of the day it is one thing do something ‘in the name of…’ it is another to truly represent that ‘name’. The question is ‘does the act reflect and represent the name accurately?’
And that my friends is the awkward elephant in the room.
It follows that there are those who will place religion in the dock. The shaking fist will accuse… ‘where was God that day?’
It was Joan Osbourne who recorded ‘What if God was One of Us?’
She penned these classic lines…
‘What if God was one of us… just a stranger on the bus, trying to make his way home?’
This is the heart of the gospel. That the infinite God of the universe entered human experience and became ‘One of Us’.
He left the ‘righteousness, peace and joy of heaven’ to become the ‘Man of sorrows, familiar with suffering’. In Gethsemane as the heavens were silent, He endured His own agonising night of trauma. At Calvery as He hung naked, bled and suffocated, He became the victim of the rapist, the child abuser, the terrorist.
He was each of the strangers at the Manchester Arena whose names we will in time all forget.
He became ‘One of Us’. He understands. He has compassion. He weeps. His comfort is still flowing freely.
But the greater miracle is that on that Cross he not only represented the victim… He also represented the perpetrator.
Think on that…
We love the comfort of knowing He took our punishment for us… But Calvary was a once for all event. ‘For God so loved the world…’ What He did for you, He also did for the terrorist.
All the wrath, punishment and vengeance that the perpetrator deserved, have already been delivered…
Blow by blow…
And so there is no longer a place for wrath, punishment or vengeance… for they were perfectly satisfied at the Cross.
In human hands these activities are weapons of mass destruction but never change a thing for the better. Coupled with unforgiveness they produce a toxic brew that only continues to harm the victims and not the perpetrator.
There remains only room for forgiveness and love…
For these collided head on with evil at Calvery…
And that is how the God of the universe changes everything in the ‘twinkling of an eye’…
He became ‘One of Us’…
In every sense.