Christian Response to Orlando Massacre


For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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!

SIN OF LEGALISM

Legalism is alive and well in churches today, and none of us are immune from its ways.

At the root of legalism is selfishness and pride.  Legalism feeds the selfish nature.  The legalist relies on willpower to do rightly, believing this pleases God and earns His favor.  This makes sense to our mind, but it is not the way God measures value.  We all need to be very thankful for that!

Legalism is appealing.  We like it because it appeals to our self-reliant nature, but self-reliance is antithetical to all that Christianity stands for.  The Gospel condemns our acts of righteousness.  Our righteousness leaves a stench to God.

It is not because we cannot do anything that is good.  It is because anything we do that is good is tainted by a wicked, glory-hungry, heart.  All our attempts at goodness are tainted by sin.

This gets to the heart of legalism.  The problem is motive; our actions are not enough.  Motive is essential.  Even Jesus said follow what the Pharisees teach, but do not live like they do (Matt 23:3).  The Pharisees did good works by following the law, but their motives were impure.

Everything the legalist does in the name of God, feeds their hunger to gain value.  And that is the problem.  It is impossible for man to earn enough value to be found worthy of God’s standard (Rom 3:23).

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being clean on the outside but rotten on the inside.  It’s all about the heart, the motive behind what we do.  When Christ has transformed our lives by the Gospel, we have a new heart, a new motive, that looks to honor God.  Christ becomes the motivating factor of our actions.  The Christian desires to give glory to God through his actions.  The legalist desires to give glory to self by their actions.

Legalism is alive and well today and takes many forms.  From style of music to versions of the Bible to facial hair to dress. It’s vital that churches preach the importance of relationship and not rules, that Jesus is exalted and not man, that grace abounds and not works-righteousness.  It is the call of the Church to safeguard the Gospel from anything that lessens the centrality of Jesus.