Hi everyone. Rob here.
Let’s call it what it is. The Orlando nightclub shooting was an act of evil. You can blame lax gun laws (how could anyone legally buy an assault rifle???), or ISIL extremists and propaganda, but, in the end, it came down to one man and one choice and he chose evil.
Colossians 1:13-14 says this about this about God our Father:
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
We love to focus on the good part, the kingdom part, but the verse is also saying that there is a dominion of darkness and it is a reality. Think also about John 10:10, a verse we love to use on this blog”
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Again, we love to focus on the fullness of life offered to us in Christ, but the reality is that we have an enemy who has destruction on his mind. How, as people who have been given new and good hearts in Christ, do we live in a world filled with evil?
Paul writes in Romans 12:17-21:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
There’s already a lot of rhetoric about banning Muslims, arming yourself, targeting mosques and so on. All of that leaves our enemy smiling. It increases the hatred and the destruction that he loves. If we respond to the targeting on one minority group by targeting another then we have sided with evil and rejected good. Doing good is not a passive choice or a choice that lacks courage. Just the opposite. It is to choose Christ and his way in the face of enormous pressure to join the chorus of vengeance.
I suggest two things to help us do good. The first is to pour out love to the victims, their families and friends. The LGBT community has experienced far too much animosity from the Christian community over the years and now is the time for them, especially the community in Orlando, to experience love from us. May the church be a source of love, comfort and compassion to all humanity in the name of Jesus. The second is to pray for Muslims. Currently they are in their holy month of Ramadan; a time of prayer, fasting, seeking God and doing good. ISIL hijacked this month by calling for killings. Pray against that. Pray that as Muslims seek God they will encounter him and his Son. Pray and seek God ourselves and ask for his eyes to see our fellow human beings as made in his image.
We can only overcome evil with good if we allow the goodness of the Father, Son and Spirit into our hearts, minds and beings. We may disagree with people over beliefs, morals, lifestyles and music tastes but we are also called to love them. They are our neighbour, they are loved by God and invited by Christ to join him in his mission of restoration and redemption. We must repent of our own hatred and prejudices so that we can truly reflect Christ and point to him as our hope and our rescue.
Grace and peace to you all and especially to the people of Orlando.