ON WEDDINGS, ROCKETS, AND RIOTS.
Ten Truths in a World on Fire.
As parents and educators, we are always looking for teachable moments. In the home and in the classroom. But how do we teach our children when the world seems on fire?
Already living in a strange time in human history . . . isolated during a global pandemic, facing uncertain economic times, working from home, schooling from home, worshiping from home, masked in public, and apprehensive in private; and all the while ramping up to an election season and a hurricane season, I didn’t think life could get any more surreal.
Until Saturday, May 30, 2020.
That afternoon, I sat at my computer watching a live-stream of a good friend’s wedding. Unable to attend in person due to the pandemic, I attended the ceremony like we have attended most things these past months . . . virtually.
At the same moment, in the next room, my kids were excited about the rocket launch. The SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 launched from Cape Canaveral, signifying the return of space flight from American soil and introducing the world’s first commercial human flight to space. For someone who loves the science of space exploration, I must admit I had one eye in the other room.
At the same moment, my city was also gearing up for another night of protests. Curfew was announced, and suddenly a pandemic “stay-at-home” had become a crisis “shelter-in-place.” Peaceful, lawful protests from citizens of all races who were righteously outraged by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, had been hijacked by violent extremists. These others were not seeking justice, but invoking chaos. Cities all around the country were facing riots and looting.
A wedding. A rocket. And riots.
As a follower of Jesus Christ, how do I respond?
As parents and educators, how do we instruct our students to respond?
What biblical principles are at play at this confusing but critical moment in history? There are many. Here are just ten.
#1. The world is broken. Romans 1:18-32
This world is not the way it should be. But it hasn’t always been this way. God created a perfect environment, and had perfect fellowship with the first people He placed in it. But we as human beings weren’t satisfied, and we rebelled against our Creator. In our pride and selfishness, we decided that we could do things better, and we violated His loving commands. And in choosing our path, we also chose our consequence: sin and death came into the world. Racism, violence, pandemics . . . these are all the results of the Fall. We are broken people in a broken world.
#2. The Enemy is the author of chaos. John 8:44
We were not alone in our rebellion against God. The same very-real enemy, called Satan in Scripture, is still a very-real force in our world today. He is the author of chaos, of cynicism, of racism, of violence. He is the author of lies, half-truths, disinformation, propaganda, and doublespeak. “Fake news” is nothing new. Satan’s first conversation with mankind was full of deceit, mischaracterizations, and lies. Mostly about the character and nature of God. And so it follows that anywhere there is confusion and chaos today, Satan is at work. We need to train the next generation to be so well grounded in God’s truth, that they can easily perceive Satan’s distortions.
#3. God is still on the throne. Psalm 91
In the darkest of times, it is important to remind our students and children that God is no less omnipotent and sovereign than in times of peace. God is at work and He is not silent. But are we listening?
This is why we pray. Prayer acknowledges that we are not in control, but that we have direct access through Christ to the One who is. We need to pray before we protest. We need to pray as we protest. We need to model prayer for our children. We need to pray often for our leaders. For our nation. For our enemies. For repentance. For peace. For the Gospel to take root in the hearts of men. For boldness in proclaiming the truth. We need to pray for revival, starting within our own hearts.
#4. We must be angry. And we must not sin. Ephesians 4:26-27
We long for justice. And when we see injustice anywhere, it should move us to anger and to action. If we are not upset by sin, we are not true children of God. However, we need to act on righteous anger, anger that is not caused by our typical, selfish frustrations (James 4:1-4) but by a hatred of the sin we see occurring (find a great explanation here). Righteous anger is not revenge. Righteous anger is not looting. Righteous anger is not stereotyping an entire group with vitriol. We must teach our children biblical and effective ways to protest injustice and affect lasting change.
#5. We strive for greater things. Psalm 8
Space exploration is all about expanding the limits of human endeavor, about pushing beyond the horizon, about making the world better. That is a God-given part of the creation mandate (Genesis 1-2). We are commanded by God to make the world a better place. In times of economic or other crises, people often debate the merits of the space program. Shouldn’t we spend that money here on earth, rather than outer space? But progress is not either/or. We can do both. Christian educators understand that we discover God and His natural revelation in the telescope and in the microscope, while we also discover God in His special revelation of His Word and His Son. They are not mutually exclusive. The true scientist does not artificially remove God from his curiosity and research. He is not close-minded to the supernatural. Rather, his biblical worldview enables him to place all of the created realm in its proper place and he pursues science for the betterment of mankind and the glory of the Creator.
#6. We are made for community. Hebrews 10:24-25
We are not made to live isolated. At creation, God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, and so He instituted the family. He instituted civil governments. He instituted the Church. He commands us to love one another, bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another, confront one another, pray for one another, share with one another, and more. The current pandemic has sometimes brought out the best in people and it has also revealed the worst in people, our selfishness and our pride.
#7. We value life, and should. Psalm 139
Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. Unborn lives matter. Senior lives matter. We should not be offended by any of these statements. If we understand how God views His most precious creation, and we understand His unequivocal command to love each person, then we cannot be offended by any declaration of the value of any person. Of course, sometime #hashtags and political movements emerge from slogans, the specific ideologies or methods of which may or may not be biblical. But if we begin ranking whose lives are more valuable than others, we have already lost the main point. We are called to stand with the hurting and to stand up for the oppressed. We value life because God values life.
#8. We fear death, but shouldn’t. Matthew 10:28-31
The global pandemic has brought death counts to our newsreels. And panic to many. It’s natural to fear death, and it's biblical to protect our loved ones. But death is not the end. For anyone. We will all live eternally somewhere. Scripture makes it clear that death does not end our existence; it merely transfers us to new bodies, either in Heaven, eternally dwelling with our Creator, or in Hell, eternally separated from Him. C.S. Lewis famously said, “You have never met a mere mortal.” This is yet another reason we value all lives, because each person is an eternal creature. And all the more reason we share the Gospel and train our children to do the same.
#9. Love overcomes fear. 1 John 4:7-21
Racism is a pernicious sin. And it is born out of fear. Sinful human beings have always feared others and divided their world into “us” versus “them.” Jesus Christ invaded our world to break down all of these artificial barriers and to lay down His life for all. For all. The Shepherd sacrificed Himself for His sheep. He washed the feet of His betrayer. And He prayed forgiveness for His torturers.
Perhaps the most misunderstood word in English, love is not warm, fuzzy feelings toward someone. Love is action on behalf of someone, regardless of emotion. Love does not ask, “How do I feel about this person?” but rather “What decisions will I make for the betterment of this person?”
#10. Jesus Christ is still the only answer. John 3:16
Not politics. Not education. Not financial security. As important as these are, they are not the ultimate answer to mankind’s most basic and most pressing need. Jesus Christ alone is the answer to what plagues every individual, and our world as a whole.
And this is why my friends TC and Kelly got married on Saturday. Because God brought a godly young man and a godly young woman together, in Christ-modeled love, so that as a couple they could better answer God’s call to . . .
“preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
Isn’t that exactly what the world needs? Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming Messiah, fulfilled by Jesus, perfectly describes the solution to our struggle. And that is what TC and Kelly are setting out to do. They are joining a ministry called Ethnos360 to bring the Gospel to unreached people groups around the world. (By the way, you can support their mission here).
That is what we are all called to do.
Christian schools and Christian parents who homeschool have the advantage of being able to give their children an accurate view of the world, to teach the whole truth unfiltered, and to model Christian living in the classroom. Of course, this does not shelter our children from the world; instead it strengthens them for it. Pray for Christian schools and for homeschooling parents.
Christian parents whose children attend public schools have the added difficulty of helping their children navigate mixed and contradictory messages from the educational authorities in their children’s lives. These parents have to spend a lot of their time and energy helping their children “unlearn.” And even when classroom teachers are silent about God, that is itself a powerful message. And a dangerous one. Pray for Christian parents who are striving to train up their children amid a school system that artificially removes God from life and learning.
It’s a crazy time in our world. After weddings, rockets, and riots, only God knows what happens next. And that’s a reason for hope.
Share your thoughts and comments with the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follower of Christ:
Which of these ten truths stands out to you most?
What is one active step you can take to live it out today?
Are you praying more now than before?
In what ways can you highlight these truths to your students?
How can you challenge them to share the Gospel and make the world better?
Does the current crisis drive you to explore God more or less? Why?
How do the limits of human justice reflect the existence and need for a higher moral law?