Back in January I was chatting with an atheist who told me he believed religion promotes violence and hatred. I staunchly disagreed as it related to Christianity. He asked me, then, to explain the difference between Christianity and ISIS. I was initially taken aback by his question because, in my mind, he was making such a drastic comparison. Then I realized he was basing it on his belief that Christians and ISIS worship the same God. But my response was simple: Jesus does not call Christians to kill anyone in the name of God, but ISIS will kill in the name of theirs. Their god is not ours.
The God we worship does NOT exact condemnation through Christ Jesus (John 3:17). He instead offers grace so that those who are in sin have the opportunity to repent and be saved (John 8:10-11). We don’t get to condemn someone - meaning, exact eternal judgment - because we consider them a sinner. That’s not what our faith teachers. That is not of Christ.
I don’t know if the atheist gentleman fully grasped what I was saying, but God spoke to my heart during that conversation. He would later put it to me simply: Christians aren’t called to kill in God’s name, but we she should be prepared to die in it. What this means is we must be prepared to face persecution for our beliefs, even if said persecution involves our death at the hands of those who strongly disagree with us. But WE don’t get to lay a finger on anyone! Seriously, if we can’t even slap someone back after slapping us, why in the world would anyone think Christians are cleared to kill in the name of God? We’re too busy turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and forgiving our brother 70 times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). But that’s what we’re called to do.
Another thing we’re called to do, and what brings me to the point of this post, is to not judge WHY tragedy strikes certain individuals.
Now, I’ve not seen this for myself, but social media claims some Christians are saying some pretty insensitive things regarding why 50 people had to die and 53 were injured in an Orlando nightclub this past Sunday. If such insensitivity has occurred among our brethren, I am compelled to offer the following correction in love (and if you know a professed Christian who has been insensitive to this tragedy, please share this post with them).
Lovelies (brothers and sisters in the Faith), Jesus DOES NOT call us to judge WHY someone is stricken by tragedy. We don't get to say, "God did this because they were sinful people" or “they died this way because their sin was so great.” That's self-righteousness at its worse. In case we all forgot, we’re all sinners. We, as Christians, may be sinners saved by Grace, but we have the propensity to sin just like anyone else…we can live righteously one day and fall the next. And even before we were saved, we were most likely out in the world doing whatever we wanted with whomever we wanted (some of us still are – but that’s another post). I know I was a fornicator, enjoyed going to nightclubs and even tried to dabble in mixed drinks (never quite mastered drinking, though...too much of a lightweight). I’m sure many of you have a similar testimony. So do you suppose YOU deserved to be shot up in a club before you made your way to God to repent?
As tempting as it is to want to explain why something happens, truth is most of us DON'T REALLY KNOW! But one thing Jesus DOES tell us all to do when tragedy strikes is to examine OURSELVES. We are supposed to say, "What if that were me in that situation" and then determine where WE stand with God. He tells us to think about where OUR soul would end up if OUR lives were cut short today. And THAT is why preaching the Gospel is so imperative - to ensure a place with God AFTER death. That is why WE must be ready to preach the Gospel in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2) - because most don't know when it will be their last day among the living.
If you never knew this, I urge you to read Luke 13:1-5. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisee and Scribes who questioned Jesus about the tragic deaths of two groups of people who were known to be sinners (it was their goal to equate tragedy with sinfulness). One was a group of Galileans who engaged in some form of idol worship. The text does not detail exactly how they died, but it is apparent it was violent. The next group was a group of 18 people who died by being crushed by a tower. The text doesn’t detail their sin, but Jesus confirms they were indeed sinners. Yet, His point was how someone dies does not allude to their level of sinfulness or righteousness. We don’t get to say, “yeah, they were DEFINITELY sinners because they were crushed by a building!” versus “She must have been a good person because she died in her sleep.” The lesson here is EVERYONE is going to die someday - even you! But the hope is that we do not perish. So our focus should be: Have I repented to ensure my own salvation? Have I got my own house in order? Do I truly know Jesus or am I just going to church and professing to be Christian to check a box? Have I been born again? These are the questions we should be prompted to ask ourselves when we take note of sudden and tragic events.
I Said All of This To Say...
Life can end in a SNAP and the ending can come at an inopportune time. It's not about HOW or WHEN someone dies that determines whether they were saved/unsaved or righteous or unrighteous. Christians, to this day, are beheaded in certain parts of the world like it’s a sport...we've seen some our brothers and sisters killed in their place of worship....some have even died horrendous deaths WHILE preaching and praying (Did we forget how APOSTLE Stephen was stoned to death? Acts: 7:54 – 8:3). Even our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was CRUCIFIED!
My loves, let’s mature and focus less on WHY or HOW someone died and more on preparing ourselves and others for life with Christ after death. Let’s love God, love one another and love the world enough to keep sharing the Gospel (Good News) so that those who desire to may repent and be saved. Moreover, let us man/woman up to be so bold in THIS love that we are prepared to die for it.
I love you all.
Prayer: God, please forgive us for speaking on things we don't truly understand and speaking out of turn. I thank you for the lessons of our Savior and Your Word, which correct us when our flesh gets in the way. I ask that you humble us to continue to demonstrate love and compassion to one another and in a way that is most appropriate for the situation and not what we assume. I ask that no matter how strong the rejection and persecution that we know will come, that we continue loving all for your sake until the end. Lord, let us be bold in this love so that all who will be saved are saved. Give us a clean heart, Lord. Purify us, Father. And allow us to walk in your Spirit as we preach, teach and in any way called to share your Truths with gentleness and patience, and correct in Love. Father, I also ask for you to show yourself strong in Orlando and throughout the United States. Give your peace to those affected by Sunday’s shooting and allow your Spirit to be clearly seen in those who will work to provide aid and support. Finally, God, for anyone who seeks you as a result of this tragic event, may they find you, waiting with open and loving arms. You are always pleased when your sons and daughters return home. May our hearts be filled with just as much joy when the lost are found. In Christ Jesus’ name, Amen.
#prayfororlando #prayforcharleston #prayforsanbernardino #prayforamerica