Infected saints, we live in a world polluted by hatred and evil. Again, we are confronted with senseless tragedy by radical individuals for no other purpose than to instill fear and reveal the depth of their hate. Many have died. Families are devastated. Orlando is in pain. All of us are affected and hurt for them. It doesn’t matter the lifestyle or beliefs of the victims here. They didn’t deserve this. No one does. We are not called to be judge nor executioner. Yet, so often, flawed individuals do heinous acts in the name of their god. Tragic…. Senseless…. A divine opportunity for the church.
I am a Christian. I hold to the morals as set out for me in God’s Word. I do not create them or have the right to pick and choose the ones I like. He sets the standard I follow. My calling, my passion, my life ― none of these are dedicated to getting others to follow those same morals. I am not dedicating my life’s work to getting people to act better. What would be the point? So they can live “cleaner” lives and still be dead on the inside? That is not my hope. That is not the goal of the church ― to reform the world to act better. We are to preach a different message than dead legalism.
I am an evangelist to both the world and the church. To the world, I preach love and grace. They need to know I care. That my agenda is pure. That I have their best intentions at heart. To the church, I preach the same message but not as ones who are to receive, but rather to give, love and grace. To the church, I say: “Quit ignoring. Quit staying in a bubble, loving those like you and not engaging the hurting all around you. It is not enough to just not hate. Not hating does not mean you care. That is not the Gospel!”
Love is active and messy. We need to reach out. We all should be looking for opportunity to show love and care to the LGBT community around us. This means engaging in dialogue and showing love by listening and praying and serving them. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with their lifestyle. It also doesn’t mean calling it out through hateful rhetoric either.
Too often, the church’s response is to retreat and not engage. Christ doesn’t want us to stand aside and watch. It is not enough to say we don’t hate. If we don’t engage, doesn’t that send the message that we don’t care? It’s tough work. It’s messy. Some will judge us for caring and call us compromisers. That’s okay. They did the same to Jesus.
This recent tragedy is horrible; yet, it is an opportunity for the church to show care. To give love. To be the Gospel lived out. It starts with words but does not end there. It’s time to step out and love, in action, those who are not like us or who do not believe like us. Jesus would be right in the middle of this, loving them and offering eternal hope. We should do the same!