The folks over at The Orchard Church in Aurora posted this the other day. I think those of us within the church are slowly coming to understand something those outside the church have known for awhile: Jesus has a great reputation in our communities. Christians don’t. Take a look.
It’s been a little more than a week since the shootings at Virginia Tech. As the initial shock of this devastating news begins to wear off, we’re left sorting out the long-term ramifications of a tragedy on this scale.
One sure thing this event accomplishes, it reveals the existence of lost and hurting souls. Countless people in our schools, jobs, neighborhoods, etc., feel isolated and desperately alone. Not all of them will be driven to random acts of violence, however, they are walking around with a God-shaped hole in their hearts, frantically seeking love and longing for a greater sense of purpose. These are the men, women, students, and children of our mission field. Let us seize this sense of urgency to reach out in friendship to those in our community who don’t know Jesus. It is our chance to deepen our relationship with our Creator and point others toward answers only He can supply.
Let us not give up hope. In the shadow of such depravity, it is easy to become pessimistic and negative. I suggest those are weapons of the enemy. Jesus said, “I have come that they [the lost] may have life to the full.” He also said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”
For us in the church, often spiritual warfare is waged through negativity. If I want to steal your joy, kill your courage and destroy your destiny, I want you to go negative. After the Garden, because of sin, it’s like we became hardwired to see the bad instead of the good, the dirt instead of the cleanliness, to say “I can’t” instead of “I can.” We became negative, because it is impossible to be truly positive without God.
With God, we are a people of hope. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
In the midst of our world, we must not bury our heads in the sand, neither should we immerse ourselves in misery. In our lives, we have limited opportunity to capitalize on this commodity called time. If we are going to do that, we’ve got to look at the things that threaten to keep us from making a Kingdom difference, and one of the most dangerous distractions is negativity. We must guard ourselves against the pervasive pessimism that surrounds us and focus on the work ahead.
Ingesting a steady stream of negative news can elevate our stress. In the week or so since the shooting, there’s actually been an increase in panic attacks around the country. Instead of allowing this tragedy to define us, we need to bring a sense of balance and eternal reality to our lives. God sees all of history at a glance, and we must have faith that some greater good will come from this and hope God will use us to help bring His good to our corner of the world.
Ray is PCC’s Senior Pastor