Engaging the Real Stakes

people-1164926_1920A few short days ago in Orlando we, the American people, experienced another devastating rip in the fabric of our collective souls. The well formulated response templates were quickly populated by the various interest groups and the battle lines were clearly drawn around philosophical and political world-views. Just as fluidly, the ideological children of those interest groups leaped onto social media to defend their virtual turf and espouse their anger toward whoever and whatever threatened their position.

It appears that with each tragic salvo, facts are more and more quickly obscured by the overarching narratives that have been custom-tailored to fit each interest group’s agenda. True compassion for victims now almost immediately gives way to objectification, as the suffering are turned into poster children for carefully guarded world-views. In this crisis, for example, victims have been used to promote less guns by one group and more guns by another. Some have used the incident to indict the entire Muslim community while others have gone out of their way to say it had nothing to do with Islam at all.

As Christians, God wants our understanding of His nature to be complete. We are to emulate our Father who hates sin – because it is a rejection of who He is – yet loved us so much that He gave His only Son to die in our place. Jesus’ sacrifice provides our access to the Father by placing our sins upon the Holy Scapegoat thereby making us Holy in God’s sight. Our only requirement is to accept the gift.

Christians are called to hate sin (Psalm 97:10, Romans 12:9, Proverbs 6:16-19, Jude 1:23), but we are also called to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). We do not dictate choices to others as many would do, for the very simple reason that such action runs counter to God’s nature. He gives each of us the freedom to choose whether or not we will accept Him and His ways. How then, can we attempt to take away from others what God has freely offered to all of us – choice?

NOTE: Please understand that this is not a commentary on society and Government rather on individual interaction. Society and Government have a God-given responsibility to steward our communities. (Romans 13:4)

Mature Christians forgive those who offend us (Matthew 6:14-15). We love those who act like our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). We do our best to rescue those who are being lost (Jude 1:23). While we do not – and cannot – participate in rebellious life choices, we also do not treat those who do as enemies. Instead, we serve them with gentle and loving warnings of the dangers they face out of pure concern for the devastating effects on their lives, and the destination of their eternal soul (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). Finally but certainly not of least importance, we recognize that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God… (Romans 3:23). This alone should cause us to have more mercy and grace with those we disagree.

As we grow in our love for Jesus and fellow human beings, we must be careful. The enemy loves to blur our focus. He would have us believe that love alone can save. Yet, the same Jesus who died for our sins (Romans 4:25, 1 Peter 3:18) will one day come to judge our response (Revelation 20:11-15). Love does not ignore consequences, love seeks to help the target of that love avoid the consequences. Frighteningly, we ourselves will be held accountable for each person we fail to warn. Their blood will be on our hands (Ezekiel 3:18).

The stakes are much greater than the debate reveals. The spiritual attack on our nation is not over guns, lifestyle choices or even other religions. Those things are merely symptoms of the real struggle – the one for our souls.



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