Amid the unfolding news of yesterday’s Boston marathon bombing, I saw this message on Facebook:
Really!? This is the sort of question that pops into the mind of some supposed “Christians”? People are dead and injured and scared and traumatized and panicked and you dare to question the sincerity, motivation and consistency of their prayers? And regarding the comment appended to that post, you dare to make a horrendously distasteful joke when there are still bodies and body parts strewn across the street? That’s what you, a self-proclaimed Christian, choose to say while people are still crying out and wondering where to turn for answers? This sort of self-righteous theological arrogance and uncaring smugness makes me embarrassed to be even nominally associated with Christianity.
- If someone says they’re praying for something, why should we doubt that to be true?
- Would praying for Boston have prevented this tragedy?
- Would praying regularly in general have prevented this tragedy?
- If you’ve never prayed before and only begin to do so in the face of tragedy, does God not hear those prayers? Do they somehow count for less than the prayers of those pious Christians who pray every day?
- How more #real can you get than crying out to God amid horrific tragedy?
What should the Christian response to tragedy be? The exact same response as the human response: heartbreak and sympathy and sorrow and pain and an overwhelming desire to help those in need. In this case, it seems that the only thing a distinctly “Christian” response offers us is cynicism and smugness and a decidedly un-Christ like response to pain and suffering.
Thankfully, shortly after reading that disturbing Facebook post, I saw Pope Francis say on Twitter: “Let us not forget: if we are to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus, our lives must bear witness to what we preach.”
The Pope’s wise words are a reminder of the power of words and even more importantly, the power of our actions. Is the Gospel of Jesus about judging the prayers of others, or is it about showing love to the world?