Last year, just after disembarking from a particular boat ride at Walt Disney World, my then 7 year old son John David asked me, “Daddy, there aren’t really any pirates, are there?” In the next few minutes, we had a good conversation about fictional characters and stories versus the geopolitical reality of modern day pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden. I thought then how strange it was that fiction underplayed reality.
In the past week, the morning headlines have been astir with reports of the four Americans who were murdered by the pirates who hijacked their yacht over a week ago. The brutality of this whole episode is quite sad, and it serves to wipe away any romantic notions we might have about chivalrous pirates. Despite all our supposed progress as human beings, we still live in a world where there are large bands of cutthroat men who are stealing ships and wreaking havoc on transporters and travelers off the horn of Africa.
But current evidence of violent turmoil in the world goes far beyond murderous pirates. Also in the news this past week were reports of bodies lying in the streets in Libya as protests there continue. There is unrest throughout the Middle East as citizens are rising up against oppressive governments. China, the largest nation on earth, is struggling to contain potential threats as small pockets of younger citizens try to organize to unseat their communist government. Protests involving tens of thousands have even come to American cities as labor unions and political factions are at odds over how to address budget shortfalls created by our crumbling economy. All that we see bears witness to the fact that peace is always a temporary commodity in a world of sin.
In the midst of all of the violence and unrest, we do see glimpses of the solution. Jean and Scott Adams, one of the couples killed by the pirates, had been sailing around the world since 2004 with a boat full of Bibles. Wherever they went, they handed out the Word of Life. I cannot profess to know much about this couple and their beliefs, but the fact that they manifested such a high regard for evangelism through Scripture distribution is strong evidence of faith. And though they were not targeted and murdered for being Christians, they were definitely cut down in the line of Christian duty.
Their testimony points to the only solution for violence and unrest in the world — The Gospel! The Gospel tells us that we are created in the image of the one true God, thus giving special, inherent dignity to every human being. The Gospel tells us that God is the source of the only just and perfect law, thus showing us how to structure our lives and societies for His glory and our greatest good. The Gospel tells us of how we have broken God’s law and how sin rules the creation, thus exposing the root of all that is wrong in this world. The Gospel also tells us of God’s solution for sin and evil — His perfect Son, who sinlessly kept the law, who died as man’s substitute on the cross, and who rose from the grave on the third day. Through repentance of sin and belief in Christ, we are forgiven of our sins, we are reconciled to our Holy God, and we are empowered and commanded to love God first and to love all of our fellow human beings as God loves. In this glorious message of forgiveness in Christ, men are able to truly realize a certain, unshakable peace grounded in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
What a powerful message! No other religion in the world can offer true forgiveness, true assurance of peace with God, and the certainty of eternal life with our Creator. Think of what the Gospel could accomplish all over the earth! How might this gospel change the heart of an African pirate? How might the gospel give hope to impoverished, oppressed masses? How might the gospel give light to countries shrouded in the darkness of false religions? How might the gospel restore human dignity and respect for one another as image bearers of God? How might the gospel melt the hearts of political despots? How might the truth of the gospel end conflict and banish harmful ideologies? How might the gospel form the foundation for new societies?
We know that this world will not see perfect peace until Jesus returns, until He finally abolishes all wickedness and establishes His eternal kingdom. But as we pray for that day to come, the unrest in the world reminds us of the importance of our commission. We are to go forth as ambassadors for Christ, proclaiming His gospel, knowing that as we sow the seeds of His eternal peace accord, fruit will be born according to His sovereign purpose. This is the only hope for the people of the earth. We should not fear men, we should not fear the power of nations, and we certainly should not fear death, for a believer’s death means the immediate joy of the presence of our Lord.
1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” How are we doing at proclaiming His excellencies? I love you all dearly!