Posted by: pastortomvabeach | June 16, 2016

Thought for the Week June 19, 2016

Last Sunday, as we left a great time of meeting the Lord in worship and connecting with our brothers and sisters in loving fellowship, we were stopped short by the news from Orlando, FL, of one of the worst acts of terrorism to hit our country. 49 people lost their lives with dozens of others injured, some very critically.

As I was thinking about this atrocity, I read several articles written by Christian leaders or commentators, wondering, as many of you likely wondered, how should the Christian community respond to this. I found many articles that took this act of pure evil as a springboard to attack people with whom they disagree. Christian people are literally praising this event as God’s righteous judgment and members of the LGBT community are blaming anyone who opposes homosexual behavior, saying their rhetoric drove this guy to commit this despicable act. Still others seized this as an opportunity to call for stricter and more forceful gun laws. So what should we do? How do we respond?

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, had, what I thought were some words of wisdom and prudence. He said, “Let’s call our congregations to pray together. Let’s realize that, in this case, our gay and lesbian neighbors are likely quite scared. Who wouldn’t be?” He implored Christians everywhere to “demonstrate the sacrificial love of Jesus” to the LGBT community, adding, “We don’t have to agree on the meaning of marriage and sexuality to love one another and to see the murderous sin of terrorism. In the aftermath, we’ve seen some of the best aspects of America: people lining up, for example, to give blood for the victims. We’ve also seen some of the worst — as the aftermath turned into an excuse for social media wars over everything from gun control to presidential politics. What I wonder is whether the country still has the capacity to grieve, together, in moments of national crisis.” Moore added, “Our national divisions increasingly make it difficult for us not just to work together, but even to pause and weep together. We become more concerned about protecting ourselves from one another’s political pronouncements than we do with mourning with those who mourn.”

My guess is that the first thing Jesus would do is show love to the victims, their families, and their community. Chick-Fil-A restaurant provided a tremendous example of just this type of action. When they saw the long lines of people waiting to give blood, several of their stores in Orlando opened on Sunday and began cooking and delivering chicken sandwiches to the people who waited in line. This is the type of loving action that says, “We may disagree, but we love you because God loves you.”

The other side of the story is the shooter, Omar Mateen, who was once on an FBI watch list for his possible ties to Islamic terrorists. It was reported that he claimed to be doing his deed under the auspices of ISIS and proclaimed allegiance to Allah as he fired. What are we to make of this?

Dr. Michael Brown, a nationally syndicated radio host and Christian says, “We must take Muslim terrorism even more seriously without condemning all Muslims.” While we condemn all acts of terror, regardless of the origin, and recognize that most of these attacks in our day are committed by Muslims who are sympathetic to radical Islam, Brown says, “We must also realize that there are plenty of peace-loving Muslims in America who are not only appalled at this violence but who now fear for their own lives. Our response must be measured.” As a nation, he says, “Whatever it takes, we must devote more energy and resources to rooting out Islamic terrorism from our land (perhaps Israel can help us with this?), even if it means making some Muslims uncomfortable. At the same time, we cannot demonize all American Muslims.”

Steve Dyer, our former pastor, who recently returned from almost three years in Saudi Arabia reminds us that we need to love Muslims because God loves them. Whatever we think or deduce from this horrible massacre, let us remember Paul’s words, Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27). The devil would like nothing more than for Christians to get so angry about this that we forget the second great commandment, Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39) and somehow blame the LGBT community or develop ongoing hatred of all Muslims. Whether our love is reciprocated or not we must also remember that Jesus added, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44.

I encourage you, then, to pray for everyone involved in this horror. Pray for God’s love to invade the hearts of radical Muslims and to bring a Holy Spirit revival to the Islamic world. Pray for God’s comfort to the families and friends of all of the victims and that God’s love might result in physical and emotional healing for all concerned. Pray, too, that, though we disagree with some people’s lifestyles, our love will be demonstrated in ways that open rather than close doors of service.

Then pray that, if the opportunity should arise, you will find ways to show Christ’s love in your actions and words to people who may believe that Christians hate them. Let’s prove everyone wrong and be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2). These are some of my thoughts, what are yours?

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