February 25, 2016

Sometimes I see monsters. Sometimes I catch sight of savages. Kermit Gosnell’s a cold-blooded, child-sacrificing barbarian. School shooters and suicide bombers are animals. Abductors and abusers can hardly be called human. Journalists and entertainers endorsing abortion atop altars of promiscuity, power, and pride have become abominations. Practitioners, activists, and public officials hastening elderly and disabled persons toward physician-assisted suicide have sold their souls. Mad scientists destroying embryos as if research is an excuse are lost causes. Corporate executives disposing of mutilated little ones for profit put bloodsucking leeches to shame. Anyone who even supports this evil or advocates for such ignorance (especially with vicious internet comments!) is worse than a vulture—at least vultures wait until their prey is already dead. Somehow they seem more heartless than the rest, aren’t they?

Most High God sees the monsters too. You can be sure the Holy One beholds the barbarians. “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man … They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:2-3). It turns out jabberwocks live in looking glasses. The most awful monsters appear in the mirror. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23 NIV). “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins … carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1, 3). They’re not monsters any more than we are, and we’re no less animals than they. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Even “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV).

Our own hearts harbor an equal capacity for evil. We have the same nature within as they do—old Adam, sinful self, monstrous and detestable as they come. The ones we demonize—what they carry out—we’ve thought about. We abort their value with our attitudes. We euthanize their worth when we insult them. We mutilate their sanctity by writing them off. What they do with poisons and knives, we inflict upon each other with slander. What they are convicted of we have just never been caught for. Where they have violated people with force, we have done it with finesse. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15a), and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22b).

No violence, not of word or deed, neither theirs nor ours, will rectify this situation. And our Almighty Maker will not tolerate it. Heavenly Father brings a blessed bandage and applies the only antidote. He has remedy and treatment for all of it. Loving God gives relief and healing to all of us. He became monstrous upon the cross of Jesus Christ so that He could draw near and take hold and abide among all the broken ones.   “[H]is appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance” (Isaiah 52:14). “[A[s one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised” (Isaiah 53:3b). Gouged and gaunt, swollen, blackened, and bloodied, uglier than every other—even the Author of life averted His eyes from His own Son (Matthew 27:46). He owned and atoned for each person’s carnage. By grace and not force, with forgiveness instead of dominance, in resurrection rather than revenge, He serves the salvation we try and fail to extract from each other. Just as surely as Jesus arose, such compassion works.

The same fingers of God that fashioned us also handcrafted “them.” The same Lamb’s blood that covers our horrific also cleanses their hideous. The same spoken Spirit that calls our hearts also claims their souls. Created • RedeemedCalled—we have this in common with the death culture’s victims, culprits, and spectators. Father, Son, and Spirit desire them to be saved and know truth (1 Timothy 2:4) as much as us, and He takes no more pleasure in their death than ours (Ezekiel 18:32). In Christ God reconciles the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19), even those who are His enemies, as we once were (Romans 5:6-10). We experience and exercise the For-Life Gospel in its beast-whispering fullness when we extend it to the contemptible the way that our Savior does.

After all, the Father’s love and the Savior’s grace don’t just save lives. The Gospel we believe and live can redeem even a monster’s intellect, behavior, and conversation. Has God not done so unto us? Whatever satisfaction there is in concluding who and how we’re better than, greater is God’s own joy found in being forgiven and in forgiving (Luke 15:7). So let’s track down a toad to kiss. Let’s kiss all the toads until God’s goodness transforms them into royalty. Let us deal with them patiently and treat them with understanding, while settling neither for approving their lies nor excusing their sins. Let us bespeak them as beloved to God as babies. Let us show them as beautiful before heaven as grandmas. We’ve felt their sorrow; let them know our celebration.