Monday, March 31, 2008

Brandon Fauntleroy-McDowel

I never had the privilege of meeting this young man.

And I never will. You see, Brandon Fauntleroy-McDowel was gunned down last Tuesday in a carjacking, after stopping at Case Park (across the street from the building I work in) to remove some trash from his car. Brandon was a gifted 25-year-old and seemed to have a very successful life ahead of him: wrapping up his MBA at Avila, he had just passed his LSATS and was expected to go to law school in the fall. Instead, his family buried Brandon Saturday, and police may now have his killer(s) in custody.

I never met Brandon, but a friend of mine knew him well. She was heartbroken when she learned that the victim of this shooting was her friend, Brandon. She is searching for answers.

“I refuse to believe that God let that happen? Could it be He was busy fighting other battles that for a second He looked the other way while Brandon’s life was snatched away? I can deal with that, but that God just let this happen to this young man who wasn’t in the wrong place, wasn’t in a drug infested ghetto, wasn’t committing crime…..can you explain that?

"I know, I know, we are not supposed to question God!! I just want some answers, that’s all. Is that too much to ask?”

Her words are understandably filled with the sorrow of someone who has lost a dear friend, but I see a misconception about God that I hope to lovingly correct. Was God busy fighting battles elsewhere when this happened? If not, what does that say about His love? His justice is also questioned here: Brandon was doing the right thing, educating himself and not caught up in the drug scene. So which is it, I hear my friend saying, "Was God asleep at the controls? If not, what about His justice in allowing this to happen?”

I believe the Bible speaks to these questions. John Piper has written an essay called “Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be?” He seeks the answer in the Scriptures, and lays out some of the evidence for God's control of all things, including evil. Then he deals with two problems.

1. Is God then the author of sin?

2. And why does he will that there be evil in the world?

To anyone who is wrestling with these questions, I definitely recommend reading this essay (found online here) and that you meditate on the Scripture that is pointed out. Note: In the section on God’s control over moral evil, Piper mentions Genesis 50:20, Psalm 105:17, Acts 4:27-28, and Isaiah 53:10 in support of his assertion. Please also consider these other passages as well, in their contexts: (OT passages, NT passages)

To quote the entire essay would be too much, but I will simply quote the exhortation made at the end:

So the answer to the question in the title of this message, "Is God less glorious because he ordained that evil be?" is no, just the opposite. God is more glorious for having conceived and created and governed a world like this with all its evil. The effort to absolve Him by denying His foreknowledge of sin … or by denying His control of sin … is fatal, and a great dishonor to His Word and His wisdom. Evangelicals who are seeking the glory of God, look well to the teaching of your churches and your schools. But most of all, look well to your souls.

If you would see God's glory and savor His glory and magnify His glory in this world, do not remain wavering before the sovereignty of God in the face of great evil. Take His Book in your hand, plead for His Spirit of illumination and humility and trust, and settle this matter, that you might be unshakable in the day of your own calamity. My prayer is that what I have said will sharpen and deepen your God-entranced world view, and that in the day of your loss you will be like Job who, when he lost all his children, fell down and worshipped, and said, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

I do not claim that this is easy to settle in one's mind, but as one who trusts in the Word of God, as the only inerrant source of God's revealed truth to us, I am bound to accept it.

If God were to choose in His wisdom, to take away one of my loved ones or to bring some other tragedy into my life, I cannot declare that I would pass the test. Would I deny my Savior and Lord in continued doubt and bitterness? My prayer is that I would be able to use the opportunity to show as many as possible, that He is my Lord and that I believe in Him despite my heartbreak, that He means everything to me and that there is nothing in life--even my own family and health--that means more to me than Jesus Christ. Not by my own faith could I do this, of course, but only by the faith given to me supernaturally in Christ (see John 3)!

I am praying for those struggling through this, that God will use Brandon’s death in your life to lead you to a closer walk with Him. I have no doubt that Brandon himself now has an unveiled and complete understanding of God’s purpose in cutting his life short on earth!

A call to consider your own soul

When I reflect on the violent death of Brandon Fauntleroy-McDowel and picture, in my mind's eye, his body lying on the bricks next to the Lewis and Clark monument, I am reminded that life is here for only a moment. We do not know when or how our life on earth will come to an end. When will the curtain close as it did for Brandon when the police pulled the covering over him? This thought brought me to repentance, and a desire not to waste the time that the Lord has given me. Maybe for you, this image brings fear of death, and an uncertainty about your standing with a holy God.

Consider this thought, everyone will one day appear before God in judgment. Your only hope is found in Christ. If you have not repented and trusted Christ for your salvation and for reconciliation with God, you will be naked before Him. No amount of good works will be enough to make up for the thousands of sins you’ve committed against a perfectly holy God. If you are not clothed in the righteousness of Christ alone, you are facing a fate worse than death, eternal hell.

But God is not willing that any should perish. This is why He ordained another evil that happened 2,000 years ago. He ordained that Christ would suffer the worst injustice in all of human history. A perfectly righteous man lived a perfect life only to suffer the most heinous and horrible death, while God the Father poured out His wrath on Him for every sin of every sinner who would accept Christ. Is that unjust? From a human perspective, yes. But who is complaining!?! I get Jesus’ righteousness for my sin! (Click here for a much more complete and thorough presentation of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ!)

“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)”

They say Brandon was a Christian. If that is true, then I certainly look forward to meeting him someday in Heaven!

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About Me

Here is my testimony: mike