God is fixing this. The new world order has already begun through the coming of Christ, and we are awaiting its consummation when He returns. In the meantime, we live between two worlds—between what the world is and what it can and will be. And we weep and grieve and labor and strive in patient hope.
“God is not fixing this” is the headline at The New York Daily News in the wake of the horrific shootings in San Bernardino yesterday. The message reflects an unfolding social media dispute about gun control laws. Several Republican candidates for president had tweeted that their “thoughts and prayers” were with victims and families of the shooting.
A backlash against such prayer followed. The backlash basically consisted of the idea that prayer is not enough. One must do something if one really cares about gun violence. And that something is to publicly support gun control legislation. Since “God is not fixing this” in response to our prayers, we have to fix it through government regulation.
I commend to you what Russell Moore and Albert Mohler have said in response to the “God is not fixing this headline.” Their remarks are spot-on. You can read Moore’s take at The Washington Post. You can listen to Mohler’s here.
I want to comment briefly on the irony of the headline “God is not fixing this” in light of the Christmas season. The idea that we have to do what God has failed to do is at best out of step with Christmas and is at worst blasphemous. Christmas is the one time of year that is supposed to remind us that God is fixing this. As the prophet Isaiah foretold:
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them…
For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
I understand that the people complaining that “God isn’t fixing this” are focused rather narrowly on gun violence. But that narrow focus should not be used to make sweeping indictments about God—that He is somehow indifferent to a world in sin and error pining. That narrow perspective ignores the cosmic drama unfolding around us in which God is in fact saving the world.
And it is a salvation that from beginning to end is the work of the world’s true King and Ruler Jesus of Nazareth. In his first advent, He provided salvation from the penalty and power of sin. In his second advent—the one we sing about in “Joy to the World”—he will save the world once and for all from the presence of sin. He will wipe every tear away and will make all things new (Rev. 21:4-5). And He will once and for all banish all evil—from cynical social media recriminations to mass shootings.
And that is why “God is not fixing this” is fundamentally at odds with advent season. God is fixing this. The new world order has already begun through the coming of Christ, and we are awaiting its consummation when He returns. In the meantime, we live between two worlds—between what the world is and what it can and will be. And we weep and grieve and labor and strive in patient hope.
I do not mean to minimize the immediate problem of gun violence. Let us weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). Let reasonable people come together and figure out how to end gun violence. I am all for that. But God forbid sweeping theological statements about God’s disinterest in His world based on this latest horror. God is not indifferent. He loves the world and is on a rescue mission even now. He will one day make all the sad things come untrue. And this is the one time of year that we ought to remember that.
Denny Burk is Associate Professor of New Testament and Dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog and is used with permission.