Thursday, June 16, 2016

Are We to Live in Fear?

There are many issues at stake in any discussion about God's grace, His mercy, His justice, or His judgement. Many people choose to ignore attributes of God so that they can focus solely on other attributes. They take pieces of who God is and then claim that those pieces should be the focal point for any discussion or situation. This cannot be how we view God or His attributes. We need to carry a deeper understanding of who God is to those we come in contact with us. God is love, but He is also wrath and justice. He is righteous, but He also hates the unrighteous. God does not merely become part of Himself because we desire Him to, but always remains the same. Yesterday, today, and forever.

Last weekend there was an extremely large shooting in Orlando that was horrible and has caused much grief for many families. I have been debating with myself in how I wanted to respond to the situation and to those who have already spoken out about it, in one form or another. The longer that I considered the situation and the responses that I have seen to it, the more that I have come to believe that most Christians do not respond properly to situations like this one.

We, Christians, claim that we believe in the Bible and that our God is in control. Yet, many of the responses that I have seen completely deny these very things. I have seen people stating that those in Orlando "had their lives cut short" or "they were taken before their time". When I hear these statements I am filled with sorrow for the one who makes it. If we cannot believe what the Bible tells us that God knows and has planned every day of our lives so that we live exactly the right amount of time, then how can we tell those who are hurting and grieving about the God who died for sinners, sinners just like them. We cannot tell people that God is a refuge for those who repent of their sins and run to Him if we cannot even stand upon His Word that He does all things for those who love Him and are called to His purpose.

God is sovereign over all things, even death. Our response to those who are unrepentant sinners shouldn't be a love that makes them feel better and agrees with their sin. Rather, we are called to love others while explaining to them why their sin is horrible and disgusting in the eyes of God. This is the gospel; that Christ came to earth, lived a perfect righteous life, died upon the cross for the sins of those whom He has chosen for Himself, and then rose from the grave to show His sovereignty even over death and the grave.

If we are to be told that we cannot show people love by preaching the gospel to them, then why do we even claim to be Christians? I John proclaims that God is love. The absence of God, would be no love. So to tell people that we know grief hurts, but there is hope for those who repent isn't hateful, but rather the most loving thing that we can do. We are not to hate others, we are to love them. However, many people want to tell us that in order to love someone you must approve of their sin. This is not the definition of love.

My mind continually wanders to the life of Job whenever I think about situations such as the one in Orlando, FL. Job was a righteous man and God still allowed Satan to torture his earthly body to pains beyond what many people could even imagine. This wasn't something that was done apart from God's sovereignty or without His permission. It was done by God giving permission to Satan to test Job. This test included the death of all of Job's children and even caused his wife to desire to curse God so that she may die as well. The book of Job is of greatest importance when we are examining suffering. If God removes His hand of protection/restraint even the slightest, human depravity explodes all around us.

The gunman in Orlando was a prime example of this. God restrained his sin and desire to sin against both God and his fellow man until the time decreed by God for his sin to become manifest. This man was no sicker or more sinful than any other, God just allowed him to express his sin at that specific moment in time and space in such a way that it showed the horror and ugliness of sin. Yet, many people refuse to see it as sin, just like they refuse to see how an individual lives their life can also be sin. They think that this gunman was way different and had something wrong with him that no other person, except for the terrorists, has wrong with them. This simple was an expression of the sin that lies within every single human being alive. If God wasn't holding us back all the time, we would all of have committed acts just like this at some point in our lives.

All those who were killed in Orlando were judged by God, both in this life and now in the next. God chose this past weekend as the time wherein He would no longer permit those individuals to sin against Him. And unless they cried out to Him in repentance and true humility, they have been sent to their eternal punishment in hell.

Many people would think that I have gone too far with my last statement. I however hope that you will give me the respect to continue to read this statement in its entirety. Every person dies because of sin. Some people die because sin is in the world and their bodies decay. Some people die because of other people's sin and are martyred for their faith in Christ. Others die because their sin has reached the limit for what God will allow of them and He removes them from this world. But the fact remains that everyone dies because of sin. For the wages of sin is death, and therefore Christians and unrepentant sinners will all die in the end because of their sin.

As I previously mentioned, those who were in that club in Orlando most likely died because God saw fit to remove them from this world because of their sins committed. This does not mean that those who remain, namely family and friends, are not grieved at the loss of their loved ones and do not hurt deeply because of the pain caused by their loss. This does not mean that the gunman acted rightly in gunning down all of those people, he was acting in sin and hatred that was bred from sin and was also struck down by God's decree for his actions.

This means that instead of embracing those in Orlando with false pretenses of feigned love for something that we cannot love because it goes directly against the decrees of an Almighty and Holy God, we need to bring them the Gospel in love and humility. We are no better individuals then anyone else. We merely have been blessed by God to see His mercy and grace. We must share that mercy and grace with those in need of it. Both in Orlando and throughout the world. Sin exists throughout every corner of the world, and yet Christians continue to allow it to hold a place at the table in the name of love.

Jesus lived amongst sinners and dined with them. However, never once did He approve of their sinful actions or allow them to feel at ease with those actions. Two of the best examples of this are found with the woman at the well in Samaria and Mary Magdalene. In the case of the woman at the well, Jesus drank water with her, which was never done between Jews and Samaritans, but then He followed it up with a confrontation about the many men that she had married and slept with out of wedlock. It wasn't just that He did one or the other, but rather the combination of the two that makes it so powerful. In the case of the Mary Magdalene, He permits her to come into the place where He was dining, not because of who she was for she was a harlot, but rather because He knew that salvation is available to all who repent and come to Him.

This is the manner by which we, Christians, should approach situations like this. We must love, God commands it, but He also commands us to make disciples throughout all the earth and we must also do so. We must share the Gospel, even when it is not wanted. We must love, even when we receive no love in return. But most importantly, we must follow God no matter the cost or sacrifice.

Let us pray for those who are grieving, weep with those who are weeping, mourn with those mourning, but then let us offer to them the sweetest of sweets and explain to them the love of a Savior who is greater than anything they could even imagine. There will be those who proclaim hatred or callousness are found within our actions because we hold to Christ and Christ alone, but that is to be expected since Jesus Himself told us that the world will hate and despise us for His sake. Let this not deter us from ministering to those who so desperately need it.