London in Flames

Many parts of my city have been burning overnight. The carnage is almost unbelievable.

Except... actually it isn't unbelievable. The Bible says that London last night is a visceral illustration of what the world is actually like, controlled by "the ruler of the kingdom of the air - the spirit that is at work in those who are disobedient". When God removes his restraining hand, that is the natural inclination of every heart. Not just the disaffected youth or a tiny minority hell-bent on criminality. Everyone.

Perhaps we see that wicked work of Satan more clearly in inchoate crowds, where it seems some switch can be tripped and all of a sudden violence and wickedness emerges seemingly out of nowhere. But it isn't actually out of nowhere. It was just burried before beneath a thin veneer of civilization, then let off the leash and directed by - and for the purposes of - evil.

Let's call last night what it actually was, chillingly evil. John 3 says "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil." Maybe the worst thing about last night is that not all the wickedness happened under cover of darkness. So bold were some that they were happy to conduct it in broad daylight before night fell, confident that the forces of light are incapable of answering.

For years in the UK we have deliberately silenced the forces of light. We have made police officers scared that if, in the course of doing their duty, anyone comes inadvertantly to harm that they will be prosecuted. We have enshrined children's rights and removed the rights of teachers to bring discipline. We have allowed the young to think that they have many rights and no responsibilities. We have failed to inculcate in parents the foundational principle that children's upbringing is their responsibility. We have incentivised non-stable families and kids having not two parents but one or none. We have similarly incentivised the notion that you can do nothing profitable with your life and others will pay you for it.

In other words, the events of the last night start to reveal a profound moral vacuum, primed and ready to be used by forces - human and demonic - of lawlessness. The response will be more policing, but I doubt that it will be any kind of serious examination of how these events are connected to our society losing its moral and ethical bearings. I agree with a Muslim woman on the TV last night who said "isn't this what happens when a country loses its values?"

For some good practical responses, see Adrian Warnock and Tope Koleoso, both from Enfield and close to one of last night's outbreaks.

Last night was a picture of Hell. A picture of everything that Christ died to destroy. A picture of what we are fleeing from when we turn to God for forgiveness. But only a picture. The worst night in the living memory of most people in London is only a hint of the dreadfulness of that appalling reality of existing eternally without the restraining hand of God. The Bible message of London, August 2011, is "we too need to repent or we will, eventually, all perish."