A Saviour needed

(The Nationalist, 07 April 2006)


A few days before I left Zambia in 1997, I was at breakfast in a mission in a rural area when I heard a commotion at the door. I went out and was told that a boy and girl had been brought to the clinic. There I discovered that the boy, about six years old, was already dead, and the girl, his sister, about eight, had her intestines hanging out. The clinic was a simple rural health centre without a doctor, and nothing could be done for her except to sedate her. She died soon after.

What had happened? They had been playing near their village when the boy found what he thought was a toy. He picked it up and began playing with it. It exploded, killing him and maiming the sister who stood beside him. They had found a grenade, left over from one of Africa’s many wars. It was designed to look like a toy, and to maim rather than kill. Its ultimate purpose was to terrorize, and it did that.

Someplace far away, a team of engineers had sat at a drawing board, and used their God-given talents to create that evil instrument. When the day’s work was done, they probably drove home to the suburbs, had an evening meal with their families, watched TV, and went to bed for a night’s rest. They were probably “nice” people.

History, including our time, is full of unrecognized evil, mostly ordinary and routine. We don’t recognize it for what it is. Later generations will wonder if we slept through life. We think we don’t need a saviour. (Save us from what? We’re not too bad.) One of the things Jesus did was to open people’s minds and get them to think; the Gospel is a wake-up call. He was executed because he wouldn’t go along with the routine; he spoke the truth to people who didn’t want to hear it. He was raised to life as God’s way of saying that evil does not have the last word, that humanity will be restored, but that it takes God’s power to do it.


For those in a hurry: ‘If Christ was God and nothing else, his immortality means nothing to us; if he was man and nothing else, his death is no more important than yours or mine. But if he really was both God and man, then when the man Jesus died, God died too, and when the God Jesus rose, man rose too, because they were one and the same person.’ (Dorothy Sayers)