Evil is real, humanity is not progressing, but the heathens will always rage in vain.
This is what is on my mind earlier this week as I read about the horrific attack on a Nigerian church last Sunday that left at least 50 dead, including two infants (and the total death toll is expected to rise).
The BBC reported:
“Grace was being shared when the first shot rang out. For dozens of worshippers at the St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, south-western Nigeria, the Lord’s prayer turned into a viaticum — the final prayer.
The armed men that burst through the church doors around 11:30 on Sunday set off dynamite that had congregants scampering to escape the explosions.
As worshipers rushed for the other two exits in the chaos, they were met by more armed men, followed by more shots and loud bangs.
At the end, eyewitnesses say at least 50 bodies — some of them children — were left strewn across the church floors, while many more were injured.
There was blood on the altar, blood on the floor, bodies on the pews.”
The church was a center of life in the small, quiet community, and many of its parishioners had been attending it their whole lives.
Owo Governor Rotimi Akeredolu did not mince words in a tweet condemning the attack. He wrote, “I am deeply saddened by the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent people of Owo, worshiping at the St. Francis Catholic Church, Today.”
He added, “The vile & satanic attack is a calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Owo Kingdom who have enjoyed relative peace over the years.”
It is not immediately clear which formal, organized soldiers of the evil one are to blame for the carnage and bloodshed, but mass killings of Christians are, sadly, almost routine in Nigeria.
Despite being one of Africa’s most developed nations, thousands of Christians have been slaughtered in recent years by members of the Islamic State and radicalized Fulani herdsmen rebels.
The government of Nigeria, which is majority Muslim, is often blamed for doing too little to quell the violence. This impression was not aided on Sunday, as President Muhammadu Buhari and other government officials were photographed smiling and enjoying a stately dinner just hours after the attack.
While many in the developed, Western world live under the unconscious impression that humanity is progressing as our medical and technological advances give the stark impression that we have overcome some of the limitations of humanity’s fall, many nations in Africa often serve as a stark reminder that no such progress over the wickedness of our own hearts has occurred.
Over the last several years, widespread instability in the Sahel region where poor government infrastructure following the collapse of Libya and the dissipation of the Islamic State in the Middle East has led to the rise of several (oftentimes competing) Islamic militant factions who essentially rove around with weapons, slaughtering and warring in the name of their false god.
Many African Christians live in a manner that is not dissimilar from the existence of early Christians, if not even more abjectly dangerous.
This is not only a reminder that the enemies of God, no matter how sophisticated they may be in the developed world, often operate with the same, old, tried-and-true primitive force against His people as has been employed since Cain killed Abel.
Perhaps most sickeningly to me as a first worlder, however, is the fact that our supposedly “social justice”-oriented leaders turn a blind eye to the mass slaughter and subjugation while hyper-politicizing perceived injustices in the West as it suits their political and globalist aims.
Yes, evil is real, and it takes many forms, but no matter how developed our vain imaginings about life, existence, and morality may get, the same, old, brute wickedness that has raged in the hearts of man since the inception of sin in the world is alive and well.
All of that said, I have to say that learning more about African Christians and their commitment to their Lord and His ways has humbled me tremendously over the last few years.
In a world with little to depend on day-to-day, whether that be basic resources or safety or both, men and women of God develop a profound faith in His providence that many of us in the West would be hard pressed to match.
I feel almost ashamed of my faith and the way I live it out when I hear about the pastors who are cut down with machetes for converting Muslims in Rwanda, for example, or who are shot for simply preaching the Word on Pentacostal Sunday in Nigeria.
Mankind can run from God, rage against His laws, slaughter His people, construct great, massive, powerful states that extend far beyond the ordinance He gives earthly governments, and yet…mankind cannot in any way, shape, or form prevent the goodness of His ultimate will.
He works all things — all things — together for good to those who love Him, and the heathens rage against Him in utter and complete vain.
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.“Psalm 2:1-4
For all of modernity’s fancy terminology, countless volumes of literature, sophisticated philosophy, and advanced scholarship on “social justice,” we still live in a world where wicked men will slaughter innocents out of pure, unfiltered evil or insane, aimless madness.
When God is demoted from the center of a constructed society’s understanding of right and wrong, the devices of the devil are more than evil enough to try to take His place, and whether we are talking about the systematic slaughter of millions of unborn babies in the United States or the brutal murder of parishioners in a Nigerian church, it is all the same brand of evil.
Yet that evil was defeated 2,000 years ago by Jesus’ work on the Cross, and as civilizations rise and fall and man’s inhumanity to man remains unscathed by hundreds of years of technological and philosophical “progress,” God’s kingdom continues to grow — and He will laugh once the ministers of Satan are ultimately found in derision.
So do not despair, Christian. Instead, praise Him! For the victory is already His, and soon, as Revelation 20 promises, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,” and “There will be no more mourning or crying or pain.”