HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND?
Sunday June 12, 2016 (yesterday) began like every other Sunday during the past decade, with my waking up in the wee morning hours just as the sun begins to brighten the dark skies of night. Just like every preceding Sunday morning I felt the excitement rising in me as I looked expectantly to the task that lay before me. I prayed over the course of the next hour that God would show up at the corner of 56 & 72 and that lives would be transformed inside the walls of that beautiful white church on the hill.
Around 7:00 am as I unlocked the double doors and climbed the stairs to my office I felt my excitement joined by a hint of nervousness as I ran the morning message over and over in my mind. I prayed that my heart be pure in love as I preached a hard subject.
I knelt at the altar in God’s Sanctuary and prayed for Jesus to take over and wondered, “How will we respond?”
I report to you all this morning that indeed, Jesus did take over! The worship (as usual) was awesome! Our prayer time was sacred, and the people responded by lining the mourner’s bench, leaving everything there for Jesus to collect and take to the Father on their behalf. As I got up to preach, I had the great privilege of telling 85 beautiful souls that God loved them and so did I! I was so encouraged as I experienced with great joy all the beautiful faces loving God and people back.
Around 1:30 pm Cindy and I arrived home happy but exhausted, so a two hour Nazarene nap was in order, and it was upon my awaking that I became aware of the dark horrors of the Orlando massacre.
As someone without a television connection, I could not just turn on the set to witness the horror. So I perused all the major internet news outlets. listened to podcasts. I even checked the White House website looking for the most up to date information as possible.
I found out that fifty people lost their lives and that another fifty-three were injured, many critically.
I confess to you now that I am sitting in front of my computer knowing I must finish this letter to you, but I am struggling putting all the thoughts that are swirling in my head down on cyber paper. But here goes:
In my reading I found out that the “Pulse” the site of the murders was a Gay Bar, and so the patrons were gay as well, which was why the place was attacked. The killer himself called 911, professed his intent and swore allegiance to ISIS. This was according to the many news reports I read and listened.
I then began to have this sick feeling in my stomach and my head began to ache as I realized that this tragic event had already devolved into a political sounding board for nearly everyone.
I read stories of the right accusing the left of promoting this type of extremism by refusing to use the term “Islamic terrorism.
I listened to CNN news streams firing back at the right for their pro gun stance.
I read press releases from Muslim communities, that while condemning the act itself could not help but defend it buy pointing out the fact the Koran condemns such lifestyle under the penalty of death.
I could go on and on listing all the political excuses and attacks, but the what about the people who lost their lives?
What about the mom’s and dad’s who will never see their beloved children again because of simple blind hatred and man’s inhumanity to man?
Have we become so callused to death that political agendas outweigh the sanctity of God created life?
How should we respond Christian? Do we join in on the finger pointing and Judgment casting? Should we line up on the side of a particular agenda, or should we hit our knees and open up God’s Word to hear what Jesus would have us do?
I spent a sleepless night pondering just some of these questions. It was there in the darkness of night when the words of John’s gospel came to me:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” –John 3:16-17
Over twenty years ago I had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and make the decision to turn away from the sin that was my life. I had the chance to confess that sin, to then give that sin to Jesus and be cleansed of that sin, and to be ushered into the gift of eternal life in which I so wonderfully thrive.
This morning my mind is not on creating new and tougher gun laws. My mind is not on calling for a president to resign because he won’t use the words Islamic Terror.” It’s not on sending 11 million illegal immigrants back to where they came…
No, today, my mind is on the 50 people who will never get the chance to say yes Lord yes to your will and to your way.
My mind is on the 53 people laying in hospital beds and praying that they get the chance their friends were denied.
My mind is on the mom’s and dad’s that will never receive another hug because their precious child was stolen from them.
So Christian, how should we respond?
Oh, I believe there will be plenty of opportunities to sow our political oats, to back our side of the fight, but for now, how should we respond?
I believe we should respond in love…
We must pray for those that are left behind. Let’s trust Jesus in that He will prevail. Let’s be compassionate and not add to the politicalizing of this horrendous event.
Let’s not cast Judgment on lifestyles so different from our own and adverse to Scripture, that’s Jesus’s job.
Let’s rest in the fact that one day, “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Let’s love God and all His people…
Written in brokenness.
Pastor Bud Leach.