When Tragedy Strikes

This last week, our nation experienced a tragedy. You know what I repeatedly notice during any tragedy? That people always want to tell each other how to respond to said tragedy.

At the same time, you will hear voices giving their opinions about the real lesson to take away. Often, opinions follow statements of arrogant reproof like, “Why don’t we stop focusing on ___, and start talking about ___.”

In any tragedy, the same voices reappear over and over again:

The God-focused voice: This person feels it’s his or her duty to remind everyone that God is good, He is loving, and He is in control. This, while good-intentioned, can be an inappropriate reaction. Most Christians, aren’t questioning God’s nature when tragedy strikes, and most non-believers won’t benefit from a poker-faced “praise God” in those moments. The God-focused voice needs to be tempered with a strong dose of people-focus, otherwise it comes across cold and uncaring. The God-focused voice also needs to graduate from elementary regurgitation of spiritual tag-lines, and move towards analysis and application of what God has said in His word. This voice needs to ask, “What does God say about tragedy, and how should we react to it?” This allows the God-focused person to be helpful to lost people.

The people-focused voice: “Let’s just sit down with hurting people and comfort them.” This voice really cares about hurting people. It just wants to love people. This voice asks, “Who needs to be loved right now?” Unfortunately, the people-focused voice might not have the ability to respond with any practical measures.

The social-issues voice: Everything is a social issue. Sometimes this voice makes an important point about societal problems, but it’s like a non-stop party platform convention. In the case of the latest tragedy, it would say: “Let’s ban guns/Let’s arm more people.” This voice asks, “What can we do to stop this from happening again?” This voice may forget the spiritual implications of what’s happened and risks being too practical.

The mocking voice: The one atheist in the building will say, “See, this is proof that there is no God!” If tragedy could prove there is no God, then goodness would have unquestioningly confirmed His existence many times over already. Tragedy only proves that man is evil and completely needs a savior.

What may surprise you is that the God-focused, people-focused, and social issues-focused voices are all potentially correct at the same time.

These three voices represent the three distinct natures of Jesus. Triperspectivalism is a theological term that says Jesus simultaneously fulfilled the scriptural offices of prophet, priest, and king. You can view this interesting chart for an extensive explanation. In summary, prophets bring God’s truth to people, priests focus on people’s needs, and kings figure out how to get ‘er done.

All Christians operate more strongly in one category. During tragedy, when we’re passionately responding to a crisis, we’ll tend to speak from the office we’re most strong in. The priest will comfort, the prophet will point to God, and the king will start working on a response to the tragedy. All three responses are biblically sound and appropriate, and none of us can bring a perfectly balanced response to any conversation. Jesus was the only human to perfectly fulfill all three positional duties. Jesus brought social justice, comforted the hurting, and established a kingdom simultaneously.

Remember the offices of prophet, priest, and king. This will help make sense of why some people act or think the way they do. We’ll feel a natural urge to be annoyed by those who don’t share our spiritual strengths, but a differing voice is not wrong; it’s just the result of someone who was given different spiritual wiring. All three voices are needed in God’s kingdom, and a healthy body of believers will have people who are strong in the position of prophet, priest, and king.

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