How should Christians respond to such acts of violence?
Fifty people were killed near closing time Sunday night in a deadly shooting in an Orlando nightclub. News source report that the shooter was Omar Mateen. Mateen had pledged allegiance to ISIS and is thought to have connections to ISIS affiliates. U.S. officials are calling the shooting “an act of terrorism”. Mateen was shot and killed by Orlando police during the shooting which included a hostage situation that lasted three hours in duration.
According to CNN.com, this has been the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, and the worst terror attack since 9/11.
The attack occurred at the Pulse nightclub, which is a known gay nightclub founded by Barbara Poma whose brother was gay. Pulse has been a place of acceptance for Orlando’s LGBT community.
Poma issued a statement on Pulse’s website stating, “Like everyone in the country, I am devastated about the horrific events that have taken place today. Pulse, and the men and women who work there, have been my family for nearly 15 years. From the beginning, Pulse has served as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones. Please know that my grief and heart are with you.”
Numerous Christian leaders are responding to the tragedy urging Christians not to hate the LGBT or Muslim community.
Rev. Franklin Graham responded on his Facebook page commenting, “My prayers are with the many victims and family members who lost loved ones in the senseless shooting—now being called an act of terrorism—at a gay nightclub in Orlando early this morning. Life is precious, and we only have one chance to live our lives here on this earth.”
Beth Moore tweeted, “Have had a quiet morning and only now heard the news about the horror in Orlando. Sobbing. Praying. Deeply sorrowful over this madness.”
So what should Christian’s do and think?
Our Two Cents:
There are a multitude of thoughts that are circling on this topic. Some, unfortunately, have the opinion that, “Well, they are sinners, so they paid the penalty for their sin.” However, senseless acts of violence are never the answer, nor is outright murder which the Bible also expressly forbids.
None of this was God’s design. All of these people had a plan and purpose whether they knew God or not, or were in right standing with Him or not. This man took away their future prematurely.
Furthermore, the penalty for sin, according to the Bible, is an eternal life in Hell- not terrorist acts. This man, in essence, probably “played god” in this circumstance getting rid of a community that was deemed unacceptable by whatever standards he adhered to- right, wrong, or distorted. In his mind, he believes that he will receive an award for his actions in the afterlife.
Where most of us err in judgement is that we fail to operate in love or extend love to others. We are quick to react to policy changes initiated by the LGBT community or lump in all Muslims with ISIS terrorist acts when they are two separate things. The Bible speaks clearly about homosexuality, however, it also speaks about love. It commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. What does it say about ourselves if we have hatred towards our neighbor because of their lifestyle? Is that showing a Christ-like attitude or our own judgement over the situation? Jesus dined with the sinners, but He also taught them the truth in love. He didn’t preach a “hell fire and brimstone” message to them, but spoke what scripture had to say with love. After we do what Jesus did (when we have a genuine opportunity and are lead), then it makes room for the Holy Spirit to convict the individual of sin- any sin. Also, no sin is more severe than the others in God’s eyes. It is just our perception that weighs the gravity of sin.
We must also realize that not all Muslims are terrorists, and in any group- religious or not- there have been extremists all throughout history. We need to pray for those who fall into an extremist category and instead of dealing with the symptoms of it, we need to focus on the root cause- and let God move on the situation.
We need to pray for those that were injured and the families involved in those that were murdered because they are grieving. We need to show them the love of Christ- not hatred- because Jesus wouldn’t. Souls won’t be won with hatred or judgement, but the truth.
We need to pray for the Muslim community, who may be somewhat fearful as yet another terrorist attack has occurred. Despite many fleeing from persecution from their home country, they should not be persecuted here as well. God does not want us to persecute anyone.
Finally, pray that all of those involved in these terrorist acts come to know Christ. Hatred and fear never solved anything, but God can perform the miraculous. It isn’t His desire that any one of His children should perish, but have ever-lasting life with Him.
Pray for those in sin that their eyes will be opened, and let God do the rest. Scripture tells us to judge someone according to their fruits- but not to hate them or to persecute them. Their eternity is up to God- not us. Pray for your enemies, pray for sinners, pray for those that persecute you that they come to know Christ as these are our most powerful weapons. Then watch as God takes control.
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