This past weekend, our nation suffered the mostly deadly mass shooting in our history. From what I have gathered from various news reports, a mentally unstable Muslim man pledged his personal allegiance to ISIS, entered a homosexual nightclub, killed 50 people, wounded as many, and then was himself killed by police.
Events like this should cause Christians to cry out, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! Such hatred and senseless violence is manifold evidence of the fallen condition of mankind and the brokenness of our world. Personally, I have been disappointed in the tendency of people to resort to political arguments and blame-shifting in the light of this tragedy. One side cries out for LGBT rights and stricter gun control laws. The other demands immigration reform and more forceful response to Islamic terrorism. And while there will be a time for dialogue on these issues, my opinion is that now is not that time! Instead, as Christians, we must be careful not to lose sight of the true issues that face us when a national tragedy like this strikes.
The people who lost their lives in this horrendous act, regardless of sexual orientation, were men and women made in the image of God. That alone gives them unspeakable value in the eyes of their Creator. Have we as Christians become so caught up in the sexual morality debates of our day that we have lost sight of the value of a human life? To be pro-life is to be so from conception to the grave, for every human being, regardless of our differences.
Rather than engaging in political vitriol (bitter and hateful speech), we should take time as the people of God, and for that matter, as a nation, to obey the command of Paul in Romans 12:15 to weep with those who weep. Have we as Christians forgotten that we are called to show love, compassion, mercy, and empathy to all people? If we want to fulfill the royal law of Christ, we should love our neighbor as ourselves for love is the ultimate fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10).
As a pastor who loves the Church of Jesus Christ, I am concerned for the church to be the church, a kingdom outpost of the true King of kings and Lord of lords, commissioned to bring the hope of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ to our world. Paul says that the church is a pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15) and that the people of God are always to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). But as one writer has put it, speaking the truth without love is like operating without anesthesia. When the time comes to speak about the issues that folks are raising in light of this tragedy, Christians should not be afraid to engage in that conversation. But let’s not lose our greatest weapon and proof for the truth and power of the gospel – love!