Not Nice

I have just finished watching tonight’s BBC coverage of the atrocity in the French city of Nice. The numbers need no embellishment; 84 killed, hundreds injured and a city traumatised. The social media footage is even more graphic with video clips on Twitter showing the police ‘taking out’ the lorry driver. The road in the background is already strewn with bodies. Today the French city of Nice was anything but nice.

Whenever a tragedy like this occurs there’s a question on everyone’s lips to which only the brave or the foolhardy dare to offer an answer. ‘Why?’

What could possibly motivate a man to commit such carnage among innocent revellers on Bastille Day? How could his mind have become so warped (we’ve coined a new word ‘radicalised’) as to contemplate such an act?

Was it really that easy? I pondered the truth that I, Ian Richard White, could have done it. I could borrow a lorry on new year’s eve (say) and just drive it into a bunch of unsuspecting revellers. So why don’t I? The answer is as simple as it is profound. It’s because embedded deep within me I have a God-given ethical framework that keeps the beast in my basement where he belongs. Thankfully, the same is true of virtually everyone else in society, Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Moslem or something else.

But if we ever needed evidence of what the Bible calls ‘original sin’, we have it in spades here. This is the beast let loose on a very public stage. I am sobered by the thought that the same bias towards infamy that drove Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel to drive that lorry also resides within me. Only the cross can keep it within check. In Romans Paul talks about how we are different when we allow God’s Spirit to fill our being:

“Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14)

Grace, God’s generosity towards people who don’t deserve His love, is the antithesis of what we see on our screens today. We’re called to live in this reality and let Christ make a difference in us and in the places where he calls us to be. Living like this will change society one life at a time.

God bless you