I began writing a blog post earlier this week entitled “Jesus.” That wouldn’t be such a bad title for this series piece either. But I just couldn’t make progress in that entry. I had started to write about the Christian response to the shootings in Orlando. I had started to express my desire to see us extend love during this time – to extend helping hands in whatever way we’re able. However, as the Lord would have it, during one of my writing breaks, I found myself reading an article in which leaders of the homosexual community mentioned essentially that they’re not interested in Christian sympathy when we’re not there for their community at any other time. My heart was broken, my train of thought derailed.
I landed many times between Tuesday and today in various places reading the comments that people had been exchanging back and forth – primarily via social media – to argue anything and everything regarding the issue of Christians extending love and support (or the lack thereof) to the homosexual community. I was floored by the arguments – the details – the obsession over past events and seemingly insignificant moments around which people have centered their minds, making small things unforgivable – unalterable. It was then that I truly felt like there was nothing that I could say in my blog post.
If I extended love and sorrow to the homosexual community during this awful time for so many Americans (not just the homosexual community I might add), then it was labeled as not genuine. And if I added to that post what I wanted to add – that I don’t believe there is an accurate understanding of who Jesus is or the life and struggles of the Christ – following community of believers, then it would be seen as unloving too. And so I found myself metaphorically scratching my head. How do we, as believers, have any influence in this situation? How can we say something that will be received as genuine without being slandered by the very community to which we’re attempting to show love?
It didn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to recall to my mind some wise words that my dad recently shared with me when I was feeling a similar way about a different situation. In Acts 1:8, Christ is getting ready to ascend into heaven following his resurrection, but before leaving, he tells his disciples the following: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). They would be his witnesses. My dad had used this passage to remind me that the weight of changing hearts was NOT upon the disciples of Christ at the time of his ascension, nor is it upon us now. But you know what is? The absolute requirement of being a witness to the things that Jesus has done from days of old, right up through time and into our very lives right now.
It wasn’t long after beginning my “Jesus” post that I then read about the toddler boy in Orlando who had been drug under the water and killed by an alligator at the Walt Disney World Resort – the highest of juxtapositions for many Americans – a child dying at the “happiest place on earth.”
Again, finding myself devastated by yet another tragic situation, I remembered the Lord’s words to his own that apply to me today: “Meghann – you are my witness.” And I realized that suffering is compounded and added to suffering. First the shooting this weekend, now the death of a precious little boy, and who knows what else was going on in local news or unpublicized events of people’s homes and lives. Suffering is rampant.
And so finally it came to me: rather than write some articulate ideas as to how we should be extending love to the homosexual community right now (which I believe is absolutely correct) or try to extend to a family the deep sorrow I felt at hearing of their horrific loss, I think it’s time we refocus on Jesus. Therefore, this is a post for believers – Christ – followers who believe in the entirety of the inerrant Word of God – who fix their gaze on Christ, the author and perfecter of their faith (notice, NOT author and perfecter of their understanding). This is a cry for us to show the world the amazing power of freedom in Christ. THIS is why Christians have and should continue to sweep in during tragedy; it’s not out of a lack of concern; it’s out of the greatest of concerns. We have found in Christ a way to handle the sorrows and bitterness of this world that isn’t self-destructive in some way. We don’t have to turn to anger, bitterness, rage, revenge, alcohol, sex, drugs, harming ourselves, harming others, depression, etc. We are freed from sin to be slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). And in this righteousness, our lives become full and joyful and meaningful – even after great hardship.
If you’ll continue with me next time. This is what I want to focus on in part two as I share with you how Jesus has transformed my heart and encourage all of us to daily fight for joy that we might be able to extend that hope to others.
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.