Another gut-wrenching, traumatic national tragedy, a shooting at a school in Oregon. As of this morning, 9 lives suddenly, horrifically ended by indescribable evil and malice.
Early, eye-witness reports indicate that many, apparently not all, of those singled out for execution were self-identified Christians. Those who did not confess their faith apparently were intentionally wounded instead of fatally shot.
I'm sure we will hear many stories about what happened in those classrooms as the shooter entered. Legends will arise, some of the accurate, some of them embellished, some of them proffered on social media to such a great extent that they become the accepted truth without anyone bothering to verify their accuracy. Early this morning, it's already started.
Meanwhile, the immeasurable grief and agony of those who lost someone close in such a heart-breaking manner will take many years to heal, if ever. Many, many lives will be touched permanently and painfully. Many more will walk in fear and trepidation today, fully aware of how fragile our grip on life really is.
If ever there was an opportunity for the church to share the gospel, this is it. People need hope and healing. They need to see Christ in us, right now, more than ever.
How will the church respond?
In a day when it is painfully obvious that you may have to sacrifice your life to be identified with Christ, how will we respond? Will we stand up? If we do, what will we say or do?
Indeed, many will stand up and demand their rights, condemn those who condemn us, malign the president, the politicians, decry the removal of prayer from the schools, blame planned parenthood, the anti-gun lobby, the Muslims, Harry Potter and any number of assorted flavors of the day.
How many will stand up and proclaim the gospel, the forgiveness of sin readily available to all, even those who oppose, persecute and murder Christ and His followers? How many will stand up and become vessels of grace and mercy, reaching out to those who are disoriented, hurting and looking for answers rather than accusations and more debate? Will we respond to hate with more hate...or love.
The day of persecution is upon us. Scripture is very clear that it would come (2 Cor 12:10). The only biblical response is blessing and compassion,
Romans 12:14–15 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
This is our hour, brothers and sisters, our hour to stand up and show the world Jesus Christ. Let that thought permeate our conversations, our social media, our thoughts and our prayers.
Meanwhile, let us grieve and weep for those families that are in shock over such senseless and painful loss, remembering that some of them are our brothers and sisters in the faith, but not all. They all hurt. They all need prayer. They all need Christ.