I haven’t been sleeping well of late. Saturday night into Sunday morning, I was awake probably every hour. A couple times I checked my email (I’m not sure why—I didn’t really expect any important emails in the middle of the night), and I had breaking news alerts from Fox News and CNN. When I opened them, I learned that some monster had gone into an Orlando nightclub and opened fire. The death toll has turned out to be staggering: 50 (including the gunman) are dead. The gunman—whose name I shall not mention—was a Muslim who intentionally targeted homosexuals in an Orlando gay bar.
Watching some coverage on Fox News last night (why I bothered watching Fox I’m not sure), Bill O’Reilly blasted Tom Brokaw for saying earlier in the day that he didn’t believe it mattered if the issue was organized terrorism or a lone madman. O’Reilly may have blasted his colleague, but Mr. Brokaw was exactly right—regardless of whether this man was part of an organized terrorist cell or a lone madman, the issue is a heart issue. No amount of law—federal, state, or local—can totally eradicate the threat of psychopaths like the one who murdered in cold blood early yesterday morning. Only a change of heart can turn men from haters to lovers; only the Gospel of the Lord Jesus can change hearts from darkness to light.
Because I have recently written about the sinfulness of homosexual acts on this blog, I was accused of being part of the problem yesterday. I foster hate, I was told. I condone bigotry, they said. I believe homosexuals should burn in hell, according to my detractors.
I wrote a couple articles lately which sought to put those matters to rest (The Church and Homosexuality & “But, Don’t Christians Hate Homosexuals?”), but, in light of yesterday morning’s atrocity, it seems prudent to me to write a few lines about a Christian and such unspeakable acts of hate.
Here are just a few things to remember:
No true disciple of Jesus will ever turn to violence.
I don’t mean that a Christian cannot act under the auspices of the government to carry out God’s vengeance in the form of death (e.g., Romans 13:4), but no true disciple of Jesus will ever take matters into his own hands and carry out violence. Someone will readily point to the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch trials, and other brutalities carried out in the name of Jesus, but those who carried out those unspeakable acts of violence did not act in the name of Jesus. Simply because one says he carries out an act in the name of God does not mean that God approves.
Jesus taught peace and harmony and love. Any deviation therefrom is not an act in the spirit of Jesus.
Jesus wants us to love those in sin.
“And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22-23). In other words, love the sinner and hate the sin. Modern Christians must remember the words of Jude, our Lord’s physical brother.
Jesus’ cross is the answer to sin.
Sin cannot be answered with violence; sin is answered in the cross of Jesus. Notice what Paul wrote where he even mentioned homosexuality: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The men in Corinth who practiced homosexuality were not changed by violence, but by the gospel of Jesus.
We deserve death for our sins.
Each one of us deserves to die because of our sins. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). If you ever hear someone say that so-and-so deserves to die because of what he has done, don’t forget that you do, too!
Jesus died for our sins.
“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Yes, you and I deserve death for our sins, but Jesus took our place upon that rugged cross and died in our stead.
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
I don’t care how the wicked die—in some horrible act of violence or in war or in the gas chamber—God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). I was deeply disturbed by the elation so many of my fellow believers showed at the death of Osama bin Laden. Did the government have the right to put him to death? Absolutely. Did he deserve to die for his actions? You betcha (but, you do, too, remember?). But, the God of heaven showed no jubilation at his death. Why should we?
Yesterday morning, I had the privilege of leading the opening prayer at worship. I specifically prayed for God’s blessings on the families affected by the monstrous act in Orlando. Won’t you join me in praying that prayer today?