What has recently happened in Orlando, Fla., has the world talking. Yes, many are talking about gun control, and even terrorism — and rightly so! But another group is talking and they are talking to the Church ... about Christians.
I was shocked and deeply troubled when I read a newspaper headline that said, “California Baptist Pastor Praises Massacre in Orlando.” What this man has said, and probably what others are saying too, is what this other group of people are talking about. This statement, this thought, it makes me sick. It grieves my heart to hear such hate come from anyone, let alone one who claims to be a Christ-follower.
People who claim to be lovers of Jesus, who think and speak this way, must not be allowed platforms to speak where they are destroying the very foundation of God’s message of redemption with their twisted and perverse self-contrived logic. If this man, or any others like him, want to truly love like Jesus, like we are commanded to do by Jesus, then this man needs to stand up, pray for the victims of Orlando and pray for God’s hope to intervene and to take action and help those who are hurting due to this tragic event.
Now those people, whom God deeply loves, who this “pastor” has spoken about, they are speaking up and sharing boldly why they have a hard time hearing about not just hatred like this, but also, they are having a hard time hearing about our complete Biblical view — truths in God’s holy word — that cannot be twisted to fit an agenda or personal opinion.
But this is when we need to cling to God’s word as our complete source of authority. For if your heart is grieved by the depravity of humanity in events like Orlando, and if your heart hurts for those who are lost and apart from the Lord, and if you don’t want to falsely represent the heart of God, then listen up to what is being said. Timothy Keller said: “Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.” We must be wise as we speak and act in the name of Jesus and not misrepresent the whole truth of God’s word.
We don’t have to be painted with the same brush called “hate” this “pastor” in Sacramento has brought upon the name of Jesus. The leader of the Wesleyan movement, Dr. Wayne Schmidt, wrote in a prayer regarding this tragedy in Orlando: “Lord, give us grace to continue as people of faith to ‘welcome the stranger,’ and to not condemn all immigrants for the actions of one, any more than we would like to be condemned for the actions of just one more like us.”
Let people grieve and share their hearts, for “God is close to the brokenhearted,” (Psalm 34:18). And as they share, be ready to be a conduit of God’s grace, because the Lord is faithful to heal the “brokenhearted and bind up their wounds,” (Psalm 147:3).
May we live out Isaiah 61:1, which says: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.”
Now is the time to let anyone apart from Christ, know of your genuine love for them and your desire to see them saved and redeemed by a loving and holy God. May the Lord give us his grace to be bold for him.
Nick Emery is the senior pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church. He can be reached at email@example.com.