Two Ways for Christians to Respond to the Orlando Shooting

4045383465_f22759e77d_z As we woke up to the news of massacre and carnage in Orlando, the event shocked the consciences of the American people. The news of another mass shooting in our country has become all to familiar in recent years. Yet, the catastrophe yesterday marks the largest shooting in American history—a record that no one wanted to see broken. As our eyes glued themselves to the news outlets for the latest updates, our inquisitive hearts long for answers. As the law enforcement officials report more information in the days to come, what can we as Christians do in response to this havoc?

Already, the opportunists have jumped to political solutions, using the Orlando slaughter as a chance to propel an agenda. We want to do something to stop the shootings that recur so frequently, so such reactions are understandable. So calls for the regulation of gun control and the ban of radical Islamists have already overtaken the tragedy. Though we should explore political solutions to this persistent problem in our country, I would suggest the church should take a different approach. Before we jump to the politicization of the event, may we first mourn with the hurting and proclaim the hope of Christ.

Mourn with the Hurting

Many are hurting—The friends and family of the victims, the LGBT community, peaceful muslims, the city of Orlando, and more. Before we rush to judgement or vocalize our disagreements with any of those communities, the church must weep with those who weep. We mourn with those who mourn. We must identify ourselves with the brokenhearted, sharing tears with all.

Though our ears still ring with the shell shock of this news, we must offer our compassion and tears for those affected by this abominable attack. God birthed the church out of the afflictions of our savior. In his prophecy, Isaiah called the messiah the suffering servant. Jesus identified with us in his incarnation, becoming human just as we are. The messiah shared in our sufferings and experienced the horrors of sin and evil unleashed upon the world. As Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha, God experienced the terror of bloody murder. God became a victim and aligns himself with the oppressed and marginalized, all for the forgiveness of human sin.

Just as Jesus shared in our sufferings, so too should we share in the sufferings of those around us. We must display compassion, love, and hope for those families of the victims, coming alongside them and sharing in their grief.

Proclaim the Hope of Christ

Not only must we mourn with the hurting, we must also proclaim the hope of Christ. Jesus identifies with the weeping, but he also came to stop all the weeping. The rampage in Orlando unsettles us, serving as a poignant reminder that the world is not as it should be. The evil and hate that can fill the heart of a man to open fire in a crowded room reminds us of that. Something is seriously wrong with the world. The fault line of this world cannot be filled by shuffling political dirt. The tectonic plates of sin continue to quake the earth with unspeakable acts of evil. The restraining grace of God provides the only explanation for why the world is as stable as it is. Human remedies cannot solve the virus that is human sin.

Yet, the cross of Christ not only displays Jesus’ identification with our suffering, but proclaims victory over our suffering. God sent his son to save sinners like us, but also to restore the broken world to its original and perfect design. The Gospel involves individual restoration, but the good news expands to the entire cosmos. Yes, Christ shares in our weeping, but he also stops the weeping. This is the tension we live in as Christians between the times. The kingdom of God is here now, arriving with Christ himself two thousand years ago. Yet, the kingdom has not yet been fully realized, and won’t be until Christ comes again. Jesus’ arrival marks the inauguration of his kingdom, but that kingdom has yet to be fully consummated. As Jesus endures the sufferings of the cross, his resurrection breaks the back of our enemies sin and death, but there final defeat has yet to come. Though the kingdom of darkness continues to squirm, we must proclaim the hope that Christ has won the day on that resurrection morning and that he is coming soon. The day will soon come when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:4, ESV)

As our nation processes the carnage from Sunday, may we mourn with the hurting and proclaim the hope of Christ. Though blood stains the floors of Pulse in Orlando, Jesus is alive and he is coming soon. As we mourn with the brokenhearted, may we proclaim the hope of Christ and in our sorrow may our longing for his return grow evermore in our hearts.

Lessons From a Tragic News Week

If you have been even mildly been paying attention this week, you will know that it has been a tragic week for America. It seems like every time we turn on the news we are hearing of some devastating story. The Boston Bombing. Poision Letters. Explosions in Texas.

It seems like every time we turn around, especially this past week we are hearing account after account of evil and tragedy. However, observing all of these events and the discussions surrounding them, there are a few lessons about ourselves and the nature of reality that we can learn.

Human Beings Long to Know Why

Anytime some unspeakable tragedy happens the question of why develops. Whether it is Aurora, Newtown, or Boston, we want to understand what would motivate someone to do the hanous acts. Our questions reveal something about the way we were created. Our souls desperatly long for justice and we desperatly long for understanding. We crave meaning. We are purpose seekers. It is our questions that reveal that we are more than just biochemical reactions. We are more than just the result of random naturalistic process. Our constant search for answers reveals that we are created in the image of God. The law of God is written on our hearts. We long for justice and we long for answers because God has created us that way.

The Fall Has Corrupted Humanity

As we look for answers, the question of humanities nature rises to the fore front of our minds. Are humans basically good or evil? With the rise of the humanist movement, the argument is that humans are generally good. However events over this past week shatter the dillusion of humanism and prove that their beliefs about humanity and the world fail to hold up in the face of reality.

It is here I believe that the Christian faith provides the best answer to the question of why and the nature of humanity. Humanity was created good in the image of God. However due to the Fall, man's rebellion against God, sin has come into the world and corrupted the created order including the human heart. You see the Christian faith alone provides answers to why humans can do incredible altruistic good and at the same time do unspeakable evil. The reason humanity is capable of the boston bombings is because of sin's power and influence in this world. The world is not as it should be, and it is only by the restraining grace of God that things are not nearly as bad as they could be.

Humanity Knows that there is Absolute Truth

In an age were postmodernism continues to greatly influence and shape contemporary culture, deep down we know that truth is not relative but absolute. Reading the articles and hearing the news shows we still use absolute terminology by throwing words around like evil. Deep down we all know that there is right and there is wrong. There are moral absolutes that are not decided by popular consensus. The terminology of referring to the actions this week show that even a media far removed from a Christian worldview will acknowledge that some acts deserve the label of evil and rightly so.

Christ is the Only Hope for this Broken World

The tragedies over the past week reveal that we live in a broken world. The world is torn apart by sorrow, suffering, and death. As families mourn the loss of loved ones and as amputees heal and learn to live without their limbs, cries of anguish will be heard and tears will be shed. Here again, Christianity alone provides any sort of comfort to those suffering. Justice is coming and judgement will be had. At the return of Christ all the evils of this world will be abolished and the effects of sin will be removed. Christ will execute his judgement because he is faithful and true. We long for justice, and justice will be delivered by God.

However, we must remember that you and I are broken too. We are sinners and rebels deserving of judgement and punishment. Yet it was by the mercy of God that he sent his son Jesus to die in our place for our sins. This is the incredible truth of the Gospel! The justice of God is preserved and for those who place their faith in Jesus, they will be spared of the judgement to come by receiving forgiveness of sins.

Christ is the only hope for this broken world. As we mourn, grieve, and cry in response to this unspeakable tragedies that have unfolded this week may we cry "Come, Lord Jesus". The King is coming. He has risen from the grave. He is coming back for his church. Sin will be eliminated and evil will be defeated. The sufferings of this earth will pass away and the kingdom of our God and King will endure for eternity!

How Jesus Handled Grief

 

Jesus Experienced Grief

Losing someone we love really hurts. Grief often takes over and like a vine, begins to choke the life out of our soul. Our emotions are numb. Tears don't seem to stop. All we want to do is be alone and be by ourselves. Losing a family member or a friend is a very personal and emotional experience. Even Jesus himself experienced the gamut of emotions that comes with losing a friend. When Jesus' friend Lazarus dies, he weeps. Even though he knew he would raise Lazarus back to life, he was still overwhelmed with emotion that he just began to cry. Jesus teaches us that it is ok to grieve. It is ok to cry.

Jesus not only lost his good friend Lazarus to death, he also lost his dear friend and cousin, John the Baptist. John the Baptist died a terrible death. John was arrested by Herod, because John was vocally disapproving of Herod's sin. However, after the debase Herod watched a teenage girl's seductive dance, he gave her the opportunity to ask for anything. At the influencing of her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist. John the Baptist, whom Jesus called the greatest born of men, died by beheading at the request of a teenage girl. John's disciples took care of burying his body and they went to tell Jesus.

Jesus Responds to Grief

In Matthew 14:13, we are told that when Jesus heard the news about John, he got on a boat and went to head to a desolate place. You see, Jesus was grieving. He was heartbroken to hear what happened to John. And Jesus wanted to just spend some time alone, praying and thinking. You have to wonder what thoughts were running through Jesus mind when he heard the news. I imagine that he must be thinking about his mission, the cross. Jesus knows that what happened to John the Baptist is going to happen to him. Jesus knows that he came to die for the sins of humanity, and he knows that the cross is coming. I'm sure hearing about the death of John made Jesus painfully aware of his coming death, and filled with emotion, he just wanted to be alone with His father.

So Jesus gets in the boat and heads to a desolate place. However, the crowd hears where Jesus is going. So they travel by foot and meet Jesus on the other side. As Jesus is approaching the shore, he sees the crowds gather, waiting for him to arrive. You almost feel kind of sorry for Jesus. The guy just wants to get away to mourn the loss of his friend, and he can't get away. Life is like that isn't it? It never slows down. You lose your family member or friend and your back at work the next day like nothing ever happened. All you want to do is get away and be by yourself and grieve, but the demands of life don't allow it. Life just moves to fast.

Put yourself in Jesus' shoes for a second. How would you respond to seeing the crowd on the shore? You might think, "Really God, ministry now, I just want to be alone!". You might even hate these people, wishing they would just all go away. However Jesus doesn't respond in either ways. Jesus sees the crowd and he has compassion on them and he immediately got to work healing their sick. Although Jesus grieves the loss of his dear friend, his grief empowers him for ministry. In the midst of his emotional pain, Jesus turned outward instead of inward. Rather than turning in on himself and thinking "woe is me", he turns outward to serve and to love the crowds.

Our Grief Empowers us for Ministry

What does Jesus tell us about how to handle grief? He tells us that we must use our grief for ministry. We must be so very careful that in our mourning we don't turn our sorrow in to self-pity and loathing. Our sorrow empowers us to love and serve others. All that hurt, all those emotions you feel, take them and use them to show compassion on people who desperately need the love of Jesus. In your brokenness, God is able to use you to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. In your desperation, your dependence on Jesus serves as a powerful testimony to this lost and dying world. It is ok to grieve. It is ok to cry. It is good to mourn for lost loved ones, but may our emotions turn outwards to radical, Gospel driven, compassion.