I try my best not to have “knee-jerk” reactions when I hear of something bad happening in the news because in times past I reacted and said and did some things I regret. In a world where the media does set the narrative, it is so easy to over-react and wind up regretting what was done later. Satan loves this, as usually what is done does not promote unity and harmony, but divisiveness and hatred.
My heart was broken when I heard of the shooting at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Antioch, TN and what those brethren had to endure when a shooter came into the building at the end of the services. One of our sisters was killed, and seven more wounded. There were heroes in the sense that one young man tried to stop the carnage, and did succeed in fighting the man, causing him to wound himself. Others tried to protect others in the church, and “took bullets” for them.
Then, as my mind reeled with this, I heard of the Las Vegas massacre in which, as of this writing, 58 were killed, 489 injured, and 50 are still in critical condition.
Here are some of my thoughts, for what they are.
First, as we in this country continue our descent into further and further sin, these things are to be expected and will continue to happen. “Evil” is not happy with one or two isolated incidents; Satan will do all he can to cause men to live in fear and dread. It seems that some in our society are trying their best to stir things up and makes things worse, and the simple care and concern for others, that stems from the teaching that ALL MEN ARE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD (GENESIS 1:26), is becoming less and less prominent. Let us see where this is truly coming from – from Satan himself. Satan has done his best in ridiculing the Bible as the inspired word of God, and emphasizing naturalism and the idea of evolution. If men are not created in the image of God, but just by chance, then we can see the validation of what we are seeing; as then it would be a “dog eat dog world, where might makes right.” Men will behave like animals, instead of spiritual beings in a physical body.
These things are, as I see it, the result of a culture that is trying its best to downplay and even ridicule the impact Christianity should have in the world. Our culture glorifies games and movies that shoot, maim, rape and kill people, and then, when someone acts out these things in real life, we try to make more laws to put a stop to it. Laws do not change human hearts.
And, dare I say it, another part of the reason behind this cultural decadence is because people who claim to be Christians support this by buying the games and tickets that glorify such. If CHRISTIANS LIVED LIKE CHRISTIANS, and stopped supporting some of the things that are wicked and evil in this world; our witness to truth and Christian living would be even greater than it is now. We have millennials leaving the church by droves – why? Because, as they see it, Christians say one things and do another. Christians are to be the salt and light of the world, but when we live like the world, act like the world, and talk like the world, our light grows dimmer and dimmer. We are becoming/have become like the world. We need to think critically about what we do and how we live. ARE WE SALT? ARE WE LIGHT?
And, sadly, many young Christians leave because parents and the church has not fortified them to be able to deal with the atheistic and agnostic views constantly thrown at them in a university setting. I pray we do better.
Second, when we think deeper about these things, we know it is really a matter of the heart! Again, the Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). When we are deluged with all kinds of sin on television, radio, internet . . . it is no wonder that man’s heart is the way it is. For every one that does these evil things, there are probably hundreds of others that think about doing it. THE ONLY THING THAT CAN CHANGE A MAN’S HEART IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! Hence, Jesus wants his church to teach the gospel. What is the greatest thing the church can do now to help the world? PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE! And live like we believe it and mean it every day.
Third, Jesus overcame the world and so can we. Jesus tells Christians that in this world we will have tribulations (John 16:33). This world cannot give us peace – the thoughts and ideas of this world will never bring peace. Only Jesus can do that – Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1:76-79; 2:14; John 14:27.
Finally, here are some words from Jeremiah Tatum in A Legacy of Faith.
“I see and hear people broken hearted about all of this evil and I feel what they feel. To be honest, all I care about right now is the state of the people who hurt. Natural disasters happen and people die. “Politics and war occur and hatred persists and people are the collateral damage. Terror strikes and innocent individuals are murdered in senseless fashion. How should we respond? We begin by realizing it’s about the people who are hurting and not about the cause.
“I think each person needs to stop and pray. Each person needs to repent and turn to God. Each person needs to forgive the ones who cause them pain and not retaliate. Each person needs to love God more and the human race more. Each person needs to have compassion for and assist those who are hurting. Each person needs to follow the higher will and rule of the Creator rather than their own selfish, mistaken, human will.
“I believe we are all very tired. We are just so very tired of waking up in a world of hatred and evil and sin and death. So, if we do wake up tomorrow, let’s decide that we are going to be a part of the solution. Let’s love each other. Let’s share our possessions and gifts and accept one another and seek to work on ourselves. Let’s find a place in our heart to be kind in the midst of all of the hate.
“If we don’t wake up tomorrow, let us live in such a way today that heaven will most surely be on the horizon. Our hope is not here. Our hope is in the One who came to deliver us from the world of sin and death. All of this evil reminds us that this world is NOT our home because Jesus is preparing something that is far better. And we anticipate His return with joy exceeding and full of glory.
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” – Revelation 22:20”
Sadly, as we consider these things, the elders here at South Cobb are trying to determine what course of action to take to prevent, as much as we can, something like this happening here at South Cobb. We have already determined that we will lock the doors of the church during the times of worship, and we will try to have men in the parking lot as we leave, so, perhaps, we can do what we can to prevent this from happening here! We will also possibly be looking into training sessions for our members here to be as prepared as we can be for an “active shooter” event happening here. Please pray for us, for the world and for our society, that “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).