In 2003, convicted murderer, Paul Jennings Hill, was executed for killing a doctor who performed abortions. I do not think I need to convince you of the concept that abortion is wrong and that life is precious and should be protected. Knowing this, there are many options available to us to help deter abortions. But before I deal with those options, I want to ask a question: What would you say to the wife of the doctor who had been killed if she were your next door neighbor?
Would you offer condolences? Would you think “He was a murderer and got what he deserved”? Would you ignore her? Or perhaps you rally with those that advocate abortion rights and support those groups that fund such organizations out of protest for the violence.
Perhaps in answering those questions, they will help us answer questions about a more current event, and the real topic of this blog post, the Orlando shooting.
While I do not generally deal with current events, this particular event struck a chord with me. There were conflicted feelings on several levels. No doubt the conflict was in part due to the fact that this took place at a bar which caters to the homosexual lifestyle. (I imagine that had the shooting taken place at a sports arena, the outrage would have been more instantaneous.)
Yet the other part of the conflict was due to fear from the shooter himself: a Muslim who pledged allegiance to a terrorist organization. The thoughts quickly went through my head: Is this Paris or Belgium all over again? Is there more to come?
Yet, after you step back from the initial impact of the event, I think you will find at least four ways in which the Orlando shooting will not change the Christian life. The lesson is here if you want to listen to it. What follows is a brief written form (not a transcript) of the main points in the lesson.
Christians do not fear what man can do-Mt 10:28
This not to say that we do not get concerned or adopt a “Que sera, Sera!” attitude but we understand that the world is a place influenced largely by Satan. Evil will raise its head and do crazy things.
I know that the attack in Orlando was not against Christians for being Christians. What we can know though for sure is that even if an attack like that happened against Christians, or even if the attack was just a coordinated attack against Americans…as Christians we know that we still need to live to serve God….when this life is over, there is another one waiting.
Christians will continue to pray
Daniel (cf Daniel 6:10) did not suddenly decide to pray when the king outlawed all prayers to God. He had been praying everyday, three times a day for a very long time. Christians may pray a few more times or add a few more petitions to their prayers in times of crisis but….they do not suddenly develop an urge to start a prayer habit. We are already praying people!
We are to pray for all people. (1 Timothy 2:1-4) For the purpose that we might lead a peaceful and quiet life.
I asked above “What would you tell the wife of that abortion doctor?” I hope that as a Christian, you would be able to tell her that you were praying for her.
At times like these, we (as humans) realize that we are not in control. It is at times like these that people turn toward God. Remember the events of 9/11? Churches filled up! Even though it may not have lasted long, I hope a few of those stuck with a new found faith and trust in God.
Pray that no more attacks like this occur. Pray for those who work to prevent these attacks. Pray for those who suffered in these attacks….just because they suffer.
Christians will weep with those who weep.
We do not rejoice with those who rejoice over such an atrocity. No one deserves to be honored for doing dishonorable things. But the victims of this event are hurt and harmed people first and foremost and they need our tears.
I realize that this is were part of the conflict comes in. Christians are viewed as not approving of the homosexual lifestyle. Still, “LOVE” (doing that which is in the other person’s best interest) does not ignore sin but it realizes that in the midst of a person lying bleeding and shattered that this is not the time to ignore them or give them a cliff notes version of Bible verses which condemn homosexuality. As far as I know, the good Samaritan did not ask a lot of questions about what brought this beat up individual into his current predicament.
If we are tempted to hold off comfort- and I realize that most of us are far away from the actual events- but if we are tempted to withhold comfort perhaps a reminder from Luke 13:1-3 or Ezekiel 18:23 might remind us that in God’s sight we have all sinned. We need to repent of sins as much as anyone else does.
Remember that fear I was talking about above? The homosexual community WAS targeted for living that lifestyle. This may cause great fear. Simply asking about the well being of an individual affected by this tragedy may open a door to further conversation. It may not. But it will not nail the door shut either. Which brings us to the last thing we do not change.
Christians will not compromise the Scriptures.
In 2 Corinthians 2:17 and 4:1-2 Paul addresses those that either tamper with God’s word or “peddle” it in ways that makes it ineffective for what it is designed to do. The word of God is living (Hebrews 4:12) and the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16-17) so it is not for us to change it.
You may not ever get a chance to follow up kindness with conversation about the Bible but that is o.k. And if you do, you have an opportunity to show in kindness that the Bible does condemn, fornicators, murderers, thieves, extortioners, drunkards, covetous and such. (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
Yes, I did skip over “homosexuals” in that list. Because before we offer words of exhortation about that sin, we need to be sure we realize it is not the ONLY sin listed. And ALL of those sins are just as bad and yet generally more ignored, if not in real life then in our choices of entertainment.
Still, the beautiful thing about this passage is verse 11. “Such WERE some of you….” This is past tense. Those that repented, changed their life, left behind the old ways….they were sanctified in Christ. It applies to the murderer and it applies to the extortioner and it applies to the homosexual.
The message of Jesus to all who sin, whatever sin that may be, has always been, in love, to say “Sin no more”
I asked some questions at the beginning of this post. I want to answer them in light of the Orlando shooting rather than in the case of abortion. Suppose your neighbor lost a son or daughter in the shooting, or they simply knew someone who was lost…
Would you offer them your condolences? Absolutely. Bring flowers, send a card, bring a casserole.
Would you tell them you are sorry…BUT…well, they shouldn’t be so immoral? No. Though as noted above, I would express sympathy.
Would you imply that they deserved it? Never!
Would you not say anything? I hope that we would all say something. At least that we are sincerely praying for them.
Would you send support the club or to an organization that supports that lifestyle? No. I could see giving blood or sending money to the Red Cross.
Would you participate in a rally that supported the homosexual community? A vigil perhaps. Provided that it did not become a stage or platform in which to promote the homosexual lifestyle.
There will no doubt be a great deal of pressure over the next weeks and years to come for Christians to adopt the doctrine that being a homosexual is o.k. with God and that He blesses that lifestyle. Yet, Christians do not change based on current events. We continue to be people of prayer, kindness, and preach a Gospel that does not change.
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Act 17:11)
It is my favorite because the spirit that the Bereans had is the same that we should have today.
First, they received the word with all readiness.
They did not simply say “we have the Scriptures already and there is nothing new to learn.” In fact, those Scriptures which they had (our Old Testament) were pointing to a coming Messiah. When Paul showed up preaching that the Messiah had come, he appealed to those Scriptures to make his point. You can see in verses 1-5 that Paul first reasoned from the Scriptures in Thesolonica and some were persuaded of the Greeks, but not so many of the Jews.
Second, the Bereans searched the Scriptures to see:
To see what? To see if what Paul was saying was true. Did the Messiah come from Bethlehem? Would he be rejected? Was Jesus the prophet Moses had promised?
When I go to a place to preach or study for the first time, it is my custom to read verse 11 and explain to the audience (or individual) that we have a responsibility to search the Scriptures to see if the things presented are, indeed, from God. What we are doing, in this case, is saying that we accept the Scriptures as God’s Holy word and as our standard to measure our teachings.
That which is not from God is rejected, that which is from God is retained. Book, chapter, and verse is what we look for.
This means that when we hear someone who wants to impart to us something from God, we can afford to be courteous and do as the Bereans did: Listen. Yet, we also search the Scriptures, as they did. And a final step in that process is to discuss the message with the messenger.
Aquilla and Pricilla did just that with Apollos. They heard him, took him aside, and shared a part of the message that he was missing. He didn’t have all of the Gospel. (Acts 18:24-28) What I write, I hope (I believe) is in line with the Scriptures but it is for my audience member to search the Scriptures and see. They then are encouraged to offer information which they think would be relevant, even if, it is the opposite of what I said, or supplies more than what I said. The goal is not which of us is right but, knowing that God is always right, to make our message in agreement with his.
Which brings up another thought and the motive for today’s blog:
I am sure you have seen on Facebook, or other social media outlets, chain posts that go something like this:
I wanted to see who reads my posts (only about 7 of you) so you need to write one word on my wall and repost this on yours so I can do the same.
Or, If you don’t re post this then you are going to have to start paying for Facebook.
Or, Like this post if you are still my friend, I will delete the rest. Blah, blah, blah!
Why can’t we offer something to others that is truly inspiring? Why not inspire a person with something that will encourage them to live better or do better? Posts about how your life is going, what the kids did or are doing are great; we keep up with our friends, family, and current events. That can be encouraging. But posts like the ones above do not inspire a person to greatness.
While I hope all my posts which I pass on to Facebook and twitter are thought provoking and encouraging, it isn’t like I am the only one who shares good things. So, I am going to take my own advice and try to share a blog post or two from someone else that I think hits the mark. The point of my blogs, and those that I will share, is to present the Scriptures and let my audience search and see if they are from God. If they are: put it into action. If they are not, ignore it.
Your challenge is to do the same. You don’t have to post mine, you can post someone else’s, but share another blog, either on Facebook or your own blog post. Why? Because you will introduce people to another’s perspective, writing style, and way to explain things. It is not the one who waters or who plants but the one who gives the increase (God) that we should be trying to glorify and point people toward.
How much better an inspiring post than a chain post? Of how much more value? How much more a better use of the readers time?
Question: Who do you read that writes good inspiring blog posts? Share the link below. (Yes, you can share your own blog link!)
Photo credit: sbarkley