I just finished reading The Insanity of God, a book by Nik Ripken. If you’re wanting to read it and discover the goodness for yourself, don’t read any further! For the next few weeks, I’m devoting some blog space to a sort of series, if you will, about what I learned from this book.
Here is post one.
Nik Ripken was one of a few Christian missionaries in Somalia. Yes, evangelism was definitely something he wanted to accomplish, but that was not the only thing he did. He and a team worked with a nonprofit they started to try to lessen the effects of poverty, war, and government corruption for the Somali people.
Being a Christian in Somalia was dangerous. Ripken recounts the story of four friends of his that were assassinated on the same morning by a radical Muslim group. None of the bodies were found. There was never a moment of closure or peace. I’ll let him tell the rest.
Everywhere I looked, I saw destruction and suffering. As I thought about my murdered friends, I suddenly became so angry at the evil that I cried out to God like an Old Testament prophet wanting to call down destruction from on high.
“Why don’t you just destroy these people, Lord?” I demanded to know. “They have already killed almost all of your children in this country. Not one of these people deserves your salvation or your grace!”
The Spirit of God spoke to my heart in that instant: Neither do you, Nik! You were no less lost than they are- but, by my grace, you were born in an environment where you could hear, understand and believe. These people have not had that opportunity.
God reminded me of a truth from Scripture. “Even while you were a sinner, Christ died for you…” And Christ died not only for you, Nik, but for every Somali in the Horn of Africa.
This tale really convicted me of my pride and judgement on others. I had never really thought about how lucky I was to be born into a Christian family and have the opportunity to freely express my faith. I wasn’t born in a life of oppression, starvation, poverty, war, destruction, and evil.
From what I’ve experienced, especially in the age of social media, we are in a society that is very quick to judge.
When a radical group like ISIS takes violence to a whole new level, society demands they be killed.
When a policeman shoots a young boy, society demands the same be done to him.
When a person is caught abusing an animal, society demands the person be abused too.
Society demands justice. And I think justice is a great thing, don’t get me wrong. But I like to leave it up to God to ultimately make the final judgement because He is the only one with any right to do so. We’re all equally broken in sin and imperfections. (For a really good post on justice, racism, & the Ferguson decision and how it relates back to the cross, read this post.)
This section of the book reminded me that it is a duty of a follower of Christ to extend grace and love to all people, whether we think they deserve it or not. Because that’s how justice can be achieved.
Because Christ died for everyone. Christ died so all could have the opportunity to reconcile themselves to the perfect, holy Father. Christ died so grace could be extended to all people, all races, all ages, all backgrounds, all sins.
Injustice is going to happen in a world broken by the sin and fall of man. It’s inevitable. But our response to it is the most important thing.
No longer can my response be, “Those people are terrible. They deserve to be punished. They deserve to die.” My response must change to this instead: “Those people are children of God. Those people are lost. Those people deserve to hear the Gospel. All people deserve to hear the Gospel and know Jesus.”This definitely isn’t a paid endorsement. I just really loved this book. It tore me to pieces, to be honest. If you want to know more, you can check out Nik Ripken’s website or order the book on Amazon here. (I would encourage all Christians to read it!)