Last weekend, a very sick young man entered First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, during their regular Sunday morning service and opened fire killing 26 churchgoers and wounding 20 others making it the 5th largest mass shooting in US history. One family lost 8 members in a few short minutes.
To be honest, my first thought was sadness followed by anger.
My second thought was that we need more guns protecting our own church.
My third thought made me stop and remember why God is so good and why we don’t have to be afraid of anything…even death.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (ESV)
The scriptures are full of promises for people who know, love, and follow God.
They promise hope…
…and they promise suffering.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. Luke 6:21–23 (ESV)
When we hold our life on this planet as the ultimate treasure, we fear anything that threatens us and we lose hope in the midst of loss. But…that is not what Christ came for us to focus on.
My life, your life can not reach it’s full potential if we hope in this temporary world. Jesus didn’t come so that we could have easy lives, He came so that we could know Him, His power, His love, and live with Him for all of eternity.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8–11 (ESV)
Those who have truly known Christ have a different view of this life.
It’s incomplete without Jesus.
My heart breaks for the families in Texas who have to go on without their loved ones, but they do have hope!
Jesus promised that His followers would be with Him in heaven for all of eternity. He gave us the Holy Spirit until that time came and helped us have faith to know it was true.
The promise of heaven does not take all of our pain away, but it does change how we process it…live with it…and how we allow ourselves to be shaped by it.
The answer for me is not more guns in our churches, though some will take this route.
The answer is more hope in Jesus that if our lives are taken, we know that something better awaits us.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16–17 (ESV)
May the peace of God be with FBC, Sutherland Springs and all who suffer in this temporary place.