"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Don't mess this up, Church...

Dear American Christian,
Here we are…again. I hate how we keep landing back in this same spot. Deadliest mass shooting to date, the headlines are blaring. Gay victims. Muslim shooter. The world is rupturing seemingly at its core and we find ourselves in a position to either stop some of the bleeding or to walk away. It’s hard in these moments, where we get tested, where everyone pulls out the iPhone to film us, just to see what we will do. Where we step will determine a lot of the rhetoric that will play out: in the media, on social media, in the minds and hearts of all the onlookers.

People are dying. A lot of people are dying. And the world is ready to trip us up with our very own words. They want to see if we will wield them like a sword of political agenda or if we will use them as a salve on the wounds of the casualties. The world is watching. And perhaps their angle is just to say see, I TOLD you what they were like or perhaps they really want to know if this Jesus thing is real.

So here we stand with opportunity abounding for us to make a real move towards something different. Something struck me today, more than perhaps ever before. Something I think I need to ask you, to ask me, to ask us all, Christian or not: how do you like your victims? Because when tragedies strike, it seems like our hearts ache and throb when the faces of the deceased look more like ours and I’m wondering if this is it. If this is the reason we can stand by, almost apathetically and numb it seems at times, while the whole world is hemorrhaging.

Let’s face it, we can sometimes be stingy when it comes to our compassion and empathy. But right now, fifty faces and counting. Fifty plus sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers are lying dead because of the ravaging fire of hate. The hard question I have for us is this: do our prayers, our sorrow, our sympathies extend deeper and further when the names and photos released look more like “us” instead of “them”? Do we allow politics to dictate our love more than we do our Savior? Because this is a question that each of us has to ask ourselves at some point in some way. If this was a white, protestant church instead of a gay nightclub, would we pray a little harder? Feel a little more? Give more attention?

But the instructions are so simple so I am hoping we don’t mess this one up:

…mourn with those who mourn.

[Romans 12:15]

Regardless of whether you vote red or blue, in spite of what you believe about who should use what bathroom, and no matter where you stand on gay marriage, don’t mess this one up. Mourn with those who mourn. This is our bread and butter. This is our specialty. This is what we’ve been training for. Put on sackcloth and wail. Cover your face with ashes. Let the tears spill down your cheeks. Mourn with those who mourn.

I watched a few days ago on the news, two men dressed as Hassidic Jews, walk into a café in Israel and open fire. The images were plastered on the screen in a busy gym, while I ran on a treadmill and I thought, here I am watching people die, real people, and everyone around me is just continuing on with their workout, I’m continuing on with my workout.

We can’t be this sedated. We can’t allow Hollywood’s depiction of violence to lull us into complacency when we see all hell breaking loose. We can’t let status quo of this place, violence, pain and suffering, not even phase our American existence. We’ve got to start being like Isaiah, delving into our world with a purpose far greater than the next election or our laws. We’ve got to:

proclaim good news to the poor. [Act as if He has] sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…to comfort ALL who mourn, and provide for those who grieve…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

[Isaiah 61:1-3]

Let’s not collectively mess this one up, Church. Mourn with those who mourn. Period. This is what will speak volumes about the love and redemption and grace and mercy of our Jesus more than anything else.

I know you can do it, sweet Bride of Christ.

Your biggest believer and number one fan,

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