On Sunday, I went home from church feeling encouraged and edified. The sermon that morning finished up a series on the five solas of the Reformation, the last sola was “to the Glory of God alone.” As the message percolated through my thoughts I checked the news and saw that another mass shooting had occurred. 26 dead at a church in Texas. One question burned in my heart…
How is God glorified in this?
The fact of the matter is that I don’t have an answer to that question. I do not understand. I can’t tell you why God allowed 26 people to be murdered. Yet I believe God when his word tells us that all things have a purpose. Even the evil he allows serves to bring him glory. How can I believe this? The answer is so simple it can be stated in two words: the cross.
Christ’s death on the cross was truly the most heinous act of evil. God himself dwelt among us and instead of being received with open arms he was rejected. He was innocent, completely without sin, yet he was condemned, mocked, beaten and crucified. Jesus was the only person who has ever lived that deserved eternal life with God. Everyone else deserves death for our rebellion against our creator for, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The reason Christ came to earth was to die for our sin. We are the reason the blameless Son of God was murdered. We are the reason for the murder of the one completely perfect person in all of history. And yet, as wicked as the murder of Christ was, God has brought indescribable blessing out of it.
The darkest moment in history was the crucifixion of Christ. The most hopeful moment in history was the crucifixion of Christ. Out of great tragedy God has brought great victory. In the death of Christ, death itself was overcome. As Christ hung bruised and beaten and breathed out his last, Satan was defeated. Through Christ’s sacrifice blessing beyond measure has been poured out. The cross is a great paradox. Paul describes it this way,
It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:21-24)
The cross doesn’t make sense to us. Death is weakness, foolishness, absurdity. Yet through the death of his Son God gives us eternal life. In light of the cross, we can only respond as Paul does, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 12:33). We cannot perfectly know the mind of God because we are but finite creatures. His ways and thoughts exceed our grasp. But we can still know God because he has revealed his unconditional love for us on the cross through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.
If I was making a plan for the human race, allowing the violent death of 26 people worshiping at church wouldn’t be a part of it. That seems beyond ridiculous to me. Then again, if I was coming up with a plan for salvation, I wouldn’t have gone the route of the cross. I don’t know why God allows all the things that he does. I do know, because of the cross, that he truly is capable of working all things together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Clinging to this truth we are able to witness all manner of evil and still say, “To God be glory forever. Amen.”