Monday, a horrible bombing took place in Boston. With three people dead and over a hundred wounded, it's a grim week in America. As I thought on this atrocity, I wondered what my response ought to be. Certainly one of grief in the face of death of destruction. As a Christian, I should also be praying. However, as a leader, what am I supposed to do? I think I have three reflections on the Christian leader's response.
1. Acknowledge Evil
I think culture enjoys moral relativity. That is, we like to think that what's "bad" for one person isn't "bad" for another, and the same with "good". Christians hold to objective morality, where good and evil aren't matters of opinion, rather absolute truth. When horrific events like this occur, we can say with confidence that the bombing was an evil event that produced evil things, such as death, loss, and suffering. Christian leaders must declare the evil nature of tragedies, and mourn with others over the tyrannical reign of evil.
2. Preach Hope
As leaders mourn with others, they should ask what hope they can offer. From a naturalistic worldview, (the view that the natural world is all that is, and was, and will be), there is little hope to offer. There is some hope that the bombers will caught and held accountable for their actions, some hope that the injured will get better, but, what else can leaders really offer people? It seems that, no matter how hard we try, everyone eventually dies, sickness and evil seems to win. Christian leaders know something the world doesn't. Death has been defeated. Christian leaders must proclaim the victory of God over evil, and preach the hope that death and sickness are not the end.
The past few days, the #prayforboston hashtag has been trending on twitter. It's good to see that the entire nation sees the importance of prayer. Certainly every Christian should be praying, but I believe the prayers of leaders are of special importance. In the book of Nehemiah, a young leader named Nehemiah hears that his people are living in ruins, constantly in danger and under oppression. What is his response? Prayer. He spends days fasting and pleading with God for his people. God responds to his prayer, and gives Nehemiah a chance to return to his people, and help rebuild their city. Christian leaders have the great opportunity to pray on behalf of those who they lead, and should petition God on behalf of the people of Boston.
In the midst of my grieving and brokenheartedness over the events in Boston, I was convicted of some hypocrisy in my prayer. I claim to be a person who follows the bible, but I don't like taking Jesus' command to "love your enemies" (Mat. 5:43) literally. In my prayers, I was happy to ask for healing and justice for the victims, but nothing good for the bomber(s). The hard truth is that Christian leaders have the responsibility to plead for mercy on behalf of the bomber(s), for their healing, and for hope for them too. I was once in a place of loneliness and desperation, and I had a sort of self-hatred, and if I had stayed that way, I very well could have been the Boston bomber. Jesus saved me out of that place. I believe that Jesus saves despicable people, even murders and terrorists. My job as a leader is to pray for them, and set that example of unconditional love for other Christians under me. I can think of no better way to lead, then in love.