Tragic. Heart-wrenching. Causing anguish. There are so many things going on right now that are so wrong. There are people dying. There is so much hatred from one group for another, in so many instances. A police officer shoots a suspect. Was it warranted, or was it the product of bias? Snipers ambush police officers because of perceived (real or imagined) bias on the part of other officers. Someone walks into a building (a church, a club, a theater, a school) and harms or kills people (with a gun, with a bomb, with a knife). Saying it’s sad is quite an understatement.
The question that God has challenged me with is this: where was the Church? Not my individual local body of believers, but the group of Americans that identify with Him. Can we really say that we are putting God first and giving Him our best? Where were we when children were growing up without fathers? Where were we when a young woman found herself unmarried, pregnant, and afraid….or with a child but without a husband to support and help? Where were we when society taught children that the skin color or occupation of a person made a difference about the worth of a person?
You may say “it’s none of my business” or “I haven’t been confronted with these situations”. Isn’t it our job to share the love of Christ with society? Isn’t it our job to carry their burdens to the cross? It is perceived that we look down our collective noses at people in difficult situations. Do we? Or do we sit down with them, walk through life with them, and lead them to the cross? They can’t hear us talking within the church walls (no matter how sound the teaching is). They can’t hear us standing on the street corners and shouting at them. They certainly can’t hear us when we stand in protest of their sin. It is absolutely necessary for us to remember “for such were some of” us. It’s not about how holy we are, but about how holy our God is. It’s not about how we have overcome sin (as much as I’d like to say I have….I still struggle with mine), but how God’s love and grace defeats our sin.
So, what is the role of the Church in the wake of tragedy? We mourn with those who mourn, yes. But I believe we must also look to ourselves and ask some hard questions: How is our ministry, individual and corporate, working to reach hearts? How are we ministering to those who are different from us? Who are we trying to reach with the gospel? And the hardest question we need to ask ourselves is: Have we contributed to the problem? ….. Yeah, I know that one kicks us in the stomach. But until we examine ourselves for the sin that we see in society, we cannot go before a holy God and say we’ve given our best.
Church, let’s examine ourselves. Let’s ask God to show us where we’ve been negligent to carry His gospel. Let’s be willing to humble ourselves before God and before a watching world and say we got it wrong….but we’re willing to change. Not to be more relevant. But to follow Christ more closely. Let’s resolve to give Him our best effort…even when it takes us out of our comfort zone. Then, we can say we have given out of the Firstfruits of our labor.