Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Response to the Orlando Shooting

Several people have asked me for my opinion or response to the Orlando Nightclub shooting.

First and foremost, my response is one of horror and outrage.  This is the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.  As Christians, we shouldn’t just pretend it didn’t happen.  We shouldn’t just ignore these people.  We should not be silent.  Silence infers that we think they got what they deserved.  God forbid that anyone claiming to represent Jesus ever think that.  No one deserves this. 

Is it possible to condemn the actions of the shooter without condoning the lifestyle of the victims?  Absolutely!

Was Jesus able to eat and celebrate with “sinners and tax collectors” without condoning their actions which broke the law?  Absolutely!  (Mark 2:15)

Jesus was able to see past actions and lifestyles that were contradictory to Scripture and see the intrinsic worth of every human life.  This mass killing is not an issue of sexual orientation.  This is not an issue of radical Islam.  This is an issue of sin and brokenness.  This is a result of evil that is running rampant in the world.  This is a loss of 50 intrinsically valuable human lives.  It doesn’t matter if the victims were LBGTQ or a group of Christian pastors. Every single life on this planet is absolutely precious.  Every life lost is a tragedy.

As a Christian, I should “mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)  I should not let political, religious, or sexual issues stop me from mourning with these families.  If I can’t do that, then there is a problem in my heart.

This is an opportunity to show the world the love of Jesus.  It’s time to lay down our condemnation and judgment towards a segment of society that we typically disagree with and mourn with them.  Let’s not be angry at them.  Let’s be angry for them.

Christians have an opportunity to show love and compassion to two groups of people who desperately need to see the Savior; the LBGTQ and Islamic communities.  It’s time to reach out a hand and care for these hurting people.  It’s what Jesus would have done.

I welcome your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How are we treating each other?

Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the armor of God.  It is intended for Christians to defend themselves against the enemy.  The enemy, Satan, is described as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. God did not leave us defenseless.  We have the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of His righteousness, and so on.  The only offensive weapon in the list is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Why is it that some Christians wield the sword against each other?

Some of the most vicious criticisms I have received in the last year have not come from non-believers, but from other Christians.  I am reminded that Jesus suffered the worst persecution from the “religious” people of His day.  He was more accepted by those who were not even religious.  I am feeling that today.  My non-Christian friends treat me better and encourage me more than some of my “Christian” friends.  Why is that?  Aren’t we supposed to be united in purpose?  Aren’t we to be of one hope and one faith?  Don’t we have the same goal?
Let’s stop being petty.  Let’s stop finding fault with each other over things that just don’t matter.  Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  The world is watching our behavior.  We need to be salt and light.  We need to treat each other well and take care of each other.  We need to have something they would want.   
Perhaps we need to remember what Paul taught in Philippians 2:3-4.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Let’s assume the best in each other.  Let’s build one another up.  We are in a war and we are to be fighting side by side against our adversary – not fighting each other over things that really don’t matter.
Ultimately, we all answer to our Father for how we treat each other. Every believer should remember that our Father places far more importance on our showing love than He does on our being “right” on every issue.
1 John 4:20-21 "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister."
We can have disagreements.  We can have discussions.  However, there is a way to do that and it’s much different than the way most Christians do it.  We can even agree to disagree – as long as what we are disagreeing on isn’t spelled out in Scripture. (Which is almost never the case.)
Ghandi is credited with saying “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
What would the world be like if all the Christians actually treated one another with love and respect?  Wouldn’t the world take notice and think – “wow, they’re different.”