Thursday, June 16, 2016
I have been doing a lot of reading the past few days regarding the tragic shooting at a gay bar in Orlando. First of all, please join me in praying for the people who have been directly affected by this tragedy:
Lord Jesus, you promise that you are always at work in all things for the good of those who love you, who have been called according to your purpose (Romans 8:28). We ask, that as our all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving God that you work good from this awful tragedy. Heal those who are hurting. Bring hope to those who have lost a loved one. Help your followers who are directly connected to those who are hurting to bring them comfort and hope through your power and promises. We ask these things trusting your answers. Amen.
It's no surprise to me that this shooting has brought a strong rhetoric from our government regarding gun control. It has also brought a strong emotional response both toward the gay community as well as the Muslim community. How do we, as Christians, respond to this? The answer in short comes from Jesus' statement: Love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-38).
Guns aren't the real issue, neither is the homosexual community, nor radical Muslims. The real issue is far deeper than a weapon, a way of life or a religion. The real issue is sin. And before we can go pointing fingers at anyone else we need to realize that the middle letter of the word sin is "I". That's right. I am part of the problem when it comes to evil and violence in this world. I am a sinner because I haven't always loved God above all things and loved my neighbor as myself. The same is true for you.
Gun control won't control the evil that lurks within each person. Only God-control can do that. Only God-control, called the work of the Holy Spirit, brings us to repentance, which results in a changed way of life. I don't know about you, but I suspect what's true of me is true of you. I need to repent every day. I need to turn away from my sin and turn to Jesus every day. I need to trust that Jesus took all my sin to the cross and the empty grave. I am called to live differently in response to what He did.
And that's where Jesus' statement guides us in Matthew 22:37-38. As a forgiven man, Jesus calls me to love God above all and to love my neighbor as myself as a way of saying "thank you" to Him. Jesus is the only One who can bring about a change in ME that will bring about a change in WE. In other words, the only way that I can change relationships gone wrong is to change what's going on inside of me. The only way that I can change what's going on inside of me is to put my faith in Jesus, who instead of slaughtering His enemies, died for them, and you, and me.
Change in ME will bring about change in WE. Do you want to bring an end to the senseless violence we are witnessing in this world? It begins with you and me. It begins by praying for those who are living differently than God's will. It begins by respecting those with different views and life styles and yet calling out sinful behavior and attitudes when we see it (beginning with ourselves). It begins by loving our neighbors through kind words and helpful actions. It begins by having hard conversations (including religion and politics) and letting Jesus guide our words. It begins by pointing people to Jesus' love and forgiveness every chance we get.
An excellent article from an ex-Muslim turned Christian in response to the shooting in Orlando can be found by clicking this link: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/mourning-orlando-longing-for-truth-and-love.
God bless us all as we seek to bring His healing love to our broken world.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
You heard in Sunday school that Jesus died for your sins, but did you ever hear that God died for them? It’s something I certainly didn’t hear and I’d venture to guess neither did you. Can the one who is eternal and sent his only Son so that people may believe in him for eternal life die? It doesn’t sit well with our human logic so many of us would think that God can’t die; however, here are some reasons why we simply need to agree that He did.
- Passages in Scripture testify that God died; Acts 20:28 (“the church of God, which he bought with his own blood”) and 1 Corinthians 2:8 (they crucified “the Lord of glory”).
- The human and divine natures of Christ cannot be separated. They are “personally united” (Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VIII, par. 1). There is only one Christ who is both the Son of God and the Son of man (Lk 1:31-35). “Jesus is true God. Therefore, in Christ, God died” (Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor Joel Otto).
- The incarnation allows it. Through the incarnation God became man. Therefore, Jesus is both God and man. Since Jesus died, we can say God did, too. (Joel Otto)
“God died for your sins.”
Perhaps you and I didn’t hear it in Sunday school since it doesn’t make sense to our logic. How can an eternal God die? Yet, just as the Bible teaches the concept of the trinity, so also the Bible teaches that God died for our sins. It is a concept we need to believe even if it doesn’t make sense to us because it is what the Bible teaches. And what a comfort to know that the creator of the universe would die for you!