As reports of this Sunday’s Texas Church Shooting continued to unfold into the evening and on into this morning, I have been compelled to consider the tragic state of our nation and world. It is far too soon to react to any of the specifics or to make judgments as to eventual outcomes or implications, but I have little interest in this sort of socio-political exercise and generally feel unqualified to do so anyway. However, before this tragic event is added to the list of topics to be politicized and argued about all over news networks and social media, it stands as a striking symbol of all that is sad and tragic and evil. The senseless loss of life has led many to ask, “What kind of world do we live in?” Considering yesterday’s tragedy alongside the act of terror in New York City earlier this week and the mass shooting in Las Vegas last month, it certainly seems like a valid question: just what kind of world do we live in? This is a question for which everyone ought to know the answer; however, I feel it is particularly important that every Jesus follower understand and consider the answers to this question in light of biblical truth.
We live in a fallen world.
Though most of us enjoy a life surrounded by goodness and kindness only occasionally touched by darkness and tragedy, we must remember that our world is fallen because of sin. No excuse should be made for these evil men who are filled with such hatred, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that the ultimate responsibility lies with the sinful, wicked condition that befell us when Adam and Eve chose to rebel in the garden. The only answer for this sinful condition is Jesus, so in this fallen world we must live holy lives that point people to the righteousness of Jesus that can lift us from our fallen state. Do not return evil for evil, thus nullifying the message of hope that Jesus should bring to these situations. Even when evil is all around you and the wickedness of this fallen world is on full display, choose to do what is right in the sight of God.
We live in a blinded world.
Satan has spiritually blinded the hearts of those in this world so that we cannot see good and evil for what they truly are. While we should certainly hold accountable those who commit such atrocities and the perpetrators of these violent crimes should be actively opposed, our hatred should be reserved for the Evil One who has blinded the hearts of so many in our world. These evil men are small pieces in Satan’s attempt to thwart God’s plan of redemption for mankind, thus the true enemy is supernatural and we must fight against him with spiritual warfare. We must lift up our blinded world in prayer that they may receive the light they need to see the truth. Instead of being blinded by hatred and anger, show grace and mercy by praying for those who have been so terribly affected. Additionally, pray for those enemies who have sinned so terribly against their brother. This is how we can bring light into a spiritually dark and blinded world.
We live in a broken world.
Because of the affects of sin and spiritual blindness in our world, it is broken. It does not function as God intended. There is evil and hatred and sickness and death, all things He never intended for our world. Knowing this, we must look for opportunities to bring healing. We must resist behaviors that further break us apart as a human society. We must resist the urge to divide and accuse and generalize. We must resist the temptation to politicize these evil acts. We must instead focus on providing healing through our words, our prayers, our grace and mercy and our forgiveness.
We live in a hurting world.
It is simply the reality of the sinful state that this world is filled with pain and suffering. We feel it quite pointedly when events such as yesterday occur, but it is always true. People everywhere are hurting and we should be actively pointing them to the true Comforter. Our God is the God of all comfort. Jesus offers peace and comfort and even gave us His Holy Spirit to fill us and comfort us further. Through our actions of compassion and mercy we can draw a hurting world toward a God that can give them the comfort they so desperately need.
We live in a lost world.
While this should go without saying given the conditions we have already considered, the unfortunate reality is that many believers live their lives as if they have forgotten that this world is lost and without hope, separated from God because of their sin. I say we live as if we have forgotten it because most believers focus on social, political, and legal solutions rather than spiritual ones. When we see evil on display, we must remember that the solution is Jesus and embrace the opportunity to lovingly point people to Jesus.
We live in a loved world.
As dark a picture as we have painted, it would do us well to recall one of the most popular and well known verses from the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This world may be fallen, blinded, broken, hurting and lost; but it is also loved by its Creator God. And if a completely holy and righteous God can love this world enough to let His own Son die to save it, then we can and must love it too. I think we are moved to loving compassion for the victims of these terrible crimes, but we must also have love toward the murderous villains themselves. We cannot reserve our love for those that we like and agree with who happen to look like us and believe as we do. We must love those who look, live and believe differently than we do. We must love those who are sinful and unlovable; even those who hate us and wish us harm. In our responses to these senseless acts of violence, we must do everything out of love.
As we mourn those lost and injured at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, I call on my fellow Christian believers at this time to consider the words of Paul in Romans 12:9-18, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection…Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep…If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” What kind of world do we live in? One that needs us to live the truth of those verses every second of every day!
photo By Sasha Wolff CC BY 2.0