Ask A Pastor – July 20, 2016
Ask A Pastor
Rev. John Campbell,
United Presbyterian Church, Oakdale
From France: Father and son from Texas killed in truck attack; 80 plus dead.
From Dallas: Sniper kills 5 police officers.
From Orlando: 49 killed in night club shooting.
"What is a Christian's response to all the instances of violence and terrorism in the United States and the world?"
The very first response, beside shock, should be grief at the loss of life. For Christians human life is important because in the beginning God created humans in God’s image. All life is sacred. Human life is especially so, as it is gift from God. Protecting it is of utmost importance to God.
The importance of humanity can be seen from a very popular verse of John 3:16, “For God so (in a powerful way) loved (“and dearly prized”) the world (all of humankind), that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The importance of each person on the globe is seen in this act of love. The passage continues “For God did not send his Son into the world (the habitat of human beings) to condemn the world (people), but to save the world (each person) through him (Jesus Christ).” God desires the people of the earth to enjoy the fullness of life in His presence.
Saint Paul tells us “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Christians need to mourn for the loss of precious lives. Yet this verse also implies that we need to comfort those who are suffering. Mourning does not just mean saying ‘I am sorry’. There needs to be support, an offer to help, a standing with those who are hurting.
Another part of the above passage in Romans reads “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Christians beside offering their love can express their condemnation of the evil acts. In this age we need to take care not be judgmental of people in general. We definitely need to stand against attitudes and acts that are wrong. And at the same time realize there are individuals that need the love of Christ. Our acts of mercy and love do far more to help than our words of judgment.
The Christian response to the violence and terrorism needs to be one of prayer and acts of compassion. We need to pray for those hurting because of loss of loved ones or because of injuries. We need to pray for God’s righteousness and peace. And at the same time we need to reach out to all people with the love of Christ, whether it is a kind word, a gentle hug, or acceptance. There are times when we need to give help in physically meeting needs. Letting Christ’s love flow through us to all those around us will not necessarily change the world, yet it might just change where we live.