Saturday, December 5, 2015

Choosing Love in the Aftermath of the San Bernardino Shootings

Something is bothering me. Something is bothering me and it’s not going to sit well with about half the people I know. It’s funny cause that’s what keeps me from saying anything , but then there’s this bible verse that keeps going on in my heart and in my head. It’s Matthew 10:21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” So I will say it because I believe I betray you if I don't. I am seriously ashamed of the hate I have been seeing, or more accurately reading, since the shootings. Oh sure, some of it was there before that but it has definitely ramped up. Am I scared? Sure I am. I think it’s only natural to be frightened right now. But here’s the thing, this has been all around us all this time, we only become frightened when we are forced to take our blinders off. This is a fallen world, so the hate I see doesn’t surprise me. It does sadden me though. You know what saddens me even more? That there are people out there so love starved that a group such as ISIS could come along and change someone’s heart so quickly and brutally. I don’t see it as any different than the gangs preying on kids from broken homes with promises of a family that will take care of them. ISIS is just the extreme of that and really well funded. And that funding again is because there is such an emptiness out there that people are willing to help a cause with no real value. Emptiness from a life without God. And how are they ever going to know the love of God when we hate everyone we see with a beard or a head wrap. Again, am I scared? Sure I am but then there’s this verse in my head Matthew 5:46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” I don’t want to love only when it’s easy. God has commanded a different attitude from me. Hey, Jesus laid His life on the line for everyone. Let me say it again, everyone. Who am I to choose who I should show the love of Christ to. Which brought me to this, Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” Guess what? If you’re not jewish, you’re a Gentile. Me, you, and every white, black, Latino,Asian, Middle Eastern person is a Gentile. Who am I to choose who receives God’s love? God showed His love to me while I was a drunken, drug induced, murdering, fornicater. Who am I?!

Let’s face it, they are here. We can cower in fear, lash out in fear or take a chance and show kindness to each person around us. You never know what God has been doing in someone’s life. I have heard that on average someone hears about God 12 times before making a decision to follow Him. You don’t know if you’re their first contact or number 12. And if these people are so love starved that they could be taken in by gangs, by ISIS, by cults, hey they are just as loved starved and ripe for the word of God. So stop hating. You don’t have to open your home to Muslims or homosexuals or whoever is on your hit list. But maybe when you’re at the store and you see someone whom you’d otherwise turn away from you turn towards them and ask how they are doing and YOU can begin to turn this around. It’s not just their heart that concerns me, it’s ours. We can’t say we follow God and only include those that feel the same way, that’s not God’s way.

Finally, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing." They win when we hate. When we are so scared we stop doing the good works of God to all people, evil wins. When we are so afraid to speak up when we see or hear someone we love going the wrong direction, afraid to offend the person instead of being afraid of offending God, evil triumphs. Let us not think that just because we know the end of the story, that God prevails, we need not do anything. We are vessels to be used by God for His good works for His glory and not our own. May each of us step out in faith, in love and show God’s love to every corner of the world for Christ’ sake because He once saved a gentile like me and like you.

Just an afterthought, since I posted this morning I’ve seen many posts about arming and protecting ourselves; loving on people doesn’t mean giving ISIS a hug instead a bullet. I’m talking about the people all around you who, because of our fear in light of the shootings, you turn away from. Because of the hardness of your heart you become rude to. Someone is going to gain their loyalty. That’s a cold hard fact. And it’s up to us to present the gospel uncompromisingly to the world. A cold shoulder and a nasty word to someone you know nothing about is not going to win their heart to God.

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