Lately it may seem that tragedy is around every corner. The most recent: a shooting incident at a small church in south central Texas. Certainly our hearts and prayers go out for those brothers and sisters in Christ.
Following the initial shock, most people wonder what went wrong and how it could have been prevented. These are good questions. In this and many cases of violence, the knee jerk reaction is to limit access to the weapon of destruction. While that may help in some cases, the larger question is, what caused this young man to believe killing people in a church worshipping our loving God was the answer to his problems?
The social answer seems to be a breakdown in communication. If only the military had shared his violent tendencies with civilian authorities, he might not have been able to purchase the weapons to begin with.
There are spiritual issues that can also shed some light on our struggle with violence. Lawless violence, is a desperate response to the inability to control the actions of others or the outcome of a situation. Because this young man apparently did not have a trusting relationship with God, he felt the need to take control of what he thought was an out of control situation.
However, God is always in control. Evil will never win out. Paul put it this way,
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan. (Romans 8:28 GW)
It should be comforting to know that every tragedy, no matter how terrifying, will always be turned into a blessing by our loving God. After all, as Paul continued,
What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us? God didn’t spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him. (Rm. 8:31-32 GW)
God brought a wonderful blessing through Jesus’s death. And until He returns, there will always be evil in this world. As God’s people, we are his agents of change and hope. And that is exactly what the pastor of First Baptist shared, The mission of the First Baptist Church… is to “honor and glorify God by: Studying his word, sharing his gospel, praying for his guidance, and doing his will not ours.”
Honoring and glorifying God, means that we submit our will and plans to Him. Loving those who don’t necessarily love us. Jesus reminds us of our purpose as His followers and the potential cost, “Blessed are those who make peace. They will be called God’s children. Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven! The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways. (Matthew 5:9-12 GW)
Jesus changed the world, by submitting to God’s plan. We can also be used to change the world as we seek out, God’s plan for our lives. Today that begins with prayers of support for those who have suffered…
Thank you for not abandoning us to our own disobedience or the evil of this world. Help us to follow the example of Your Son, Jesus, who laid down His life in love for us. Comfort those who suffer for Your plans. Enable them to trust Your words of promise that, “Great is their reward in heaven,” because they have allowed you to bless others through their suffering. In Jesus’s name we pray.