The Word on the Week

Anders Behring Breivik.

Following Anders court appearance in Norway this week we have to revise our understanding of the word depravity.

Previously it was thought to apply mainly to a dictator who mistreated his people. But some revision is required to take into account the years this man planned the murders. He trained in neutralising his emotions and spent thousands of hours practicing shooting with his computer war simulation games.

During these years the solitary Anders fueled his fear of difference. His ideal was for a pure Nordic race, everyone the same, no immigrants and certainly no Muslims. This dream of a utopian Norway, isolated from the world, shaped his extreme nationalism. Unfortunately this fear of diversity, this paranoia about being taken over, produced a reaction that was massively out of proportion to his imagined problem.

The bombing and shooting spree which left 77 dead has now produced the oxygen of publicity for his extreme ideas now being paraded before the Courts.

His work in disabling his emotions allowed him to mercilessly pursue his human prey on the island and have left him hugely arrogant. He cannot see himself in a realistic light. His perception has become so distorted that he considers himself to be the victim! He mocks the judiciary telling them their verdict should be either freedom or death. Anything else he scorns.

And this is a fellow human being!

What has the Bible to say?

One of the uncomfortable things about this tragedy is the fact that many of the symptoms exhibited by Anders are recognisable in us. It seems that God has permitted the full measure of evil to be displayed in a person whom we, in other circumstances, could identify with.

It’s a bit un-nerving. Like looking in the mirror and seeing our thoughts rather than only our face!

God, who can see our thoughts, has passed the verdict, “…every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” (Geneses chapter 8 verse 21). But for now there is God’s common grace which restrains us keeping depravity in check.

The coming of Christ ushers in a Kingdom and the presence of God the Holy Spirit with power actually to overcome evil in us and not simply to contain it.

St Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about this transformation, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2nd letter chapter 5 verse 17).

This new heart is available to all who come to Christ believing – repentant murderers, bereaved families you and me, out of the sheer grace of our triune God.

Trust Him.