How do we grapple with the recent church shooting?
I’m sure many of you were once again shocked at the evil and heinous act of yet another shooter who took out his hate and anger on a little Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twenty-six dead, including children, the elderly, and even the pastor’s daughter, by the hand of deranged individual whose in-laws were part of the church. All shot while attending a Sunday morning church service! A church, a sacred, supposed safe haven for people to connect with God.
The questions flurry: Why would the gunman do such a thing? Why at the church? What is happening in our world that people would act out in this deplorable way? Why attack people who have no ties to the shooter? Why children?? Why the pastor’s daughter? The questions then go even deeper: Why would God not stop this or any evil? Where is God in this? Is church a safe place?
Many of these, and other questions, no one can answer and those who are close to the epicenter of this or any tragedy, no answer will satisfy their grief or relieve their suffering. Their pain and anguish will take time and love as they journey though the deep valley of their pain and affliction. God will and can help them.
Psalms 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
The reality of life is that evil has become more overt. There are more cases of bullying in schools, at work, and in our communities. Road rage continues to escalate. Domestic violence, crime, and mass shootings are ever increasing. People’s normal governors and restrains seem to dissolve or be overpowered with their obsession to act out their anger, hate, rage and aggression. The Bible, through the words of Jesus put it this way…
John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
In life there will be anguish, burdens, trials, persecutions, suffering, hard circumstances, and troubles. This tribulation is a result of our sin-saturated world (see Romans 3:23) where evil is allowed through the free will of humanity. See, God in His high value of love must also allow people to have the freedom to choose. It would not truly be love without this freedom of choice, making life far worse than we could imagine and we would be more like robots programmed to act. To have and experience love and God’s great love, there must also be the freedom to make choices, and some people choose evil. Their evil choices have destructive effects.
However, we also have the freedom to choose to be loving, kind, and helpful. Jesus put it this way…
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Actually, the best way to curb and combat evil and push back the darkness is to be kind, loving, and doing good. Jesus again challenges us…
Matthew 22:37-39 And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
As well we need to be wise as we live in these difficult days.
Matthew 10:16 Behold, I (Jesus) am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as
We need to be wise and step up security, even at church. I know at our church we have, and continue to develop, security measures and surveillance. We have a security team keeping watch as we worship. If you are a church leader, please look into making your place of worship a safe environment. You can connect with your local police department for insight. I have found a few articles on line that are helpful, one older one from Christianity Today and one recent from Thomrainer.com (if you are reading this in print form please email me and I will send you the links firstname.lastname@example.org). Sure, I wish we did not have to do all this, and yes, I trust God completely. Because of my trust in God I follow His Word, the Bible, and seek to be wise and make church a safe place to enjoy God and learn of His great love.
So let’s combat hate, anger and aggression with being loving, kind, and helpful, spreading the good of God. Yes, be wise, stepping up security. As well, let’s pray for peace and pray for those affected by evil.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Also don’t let fear keep you from church. If you don’t already have a church where you attend, please feel invited Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. Our website has all the information you would need www.cypresschurch.net.
Seeking to push back evil with God’s love along with you,