"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself.'" --Matthew 22:36-39
The family of an elderly Jewish patient, accompanied by their rabbi, were gathered in a hospital room to say their farewell to their family member. Hospital staff had quietly slipped from the room to allow them privacy during these moments. Suddenly, an area pastor burst into the room and rushed to the patient's side, earnestly trying to get the patient to acknowledge Jesus as his Messiah and Lord. During the uproar that followed, the patient passed, robbing him and his family of their final moments together.
Regardless of the motive, it was an unspeakable violation of human decency, and the collateral damage went well beyond the patient's passing. Any hope the patient might have listened to a Gospel presentation had previously passed. Nevertheless, the pastor, believing the reeling horror and hurt he inflicted was worth the remote chance for a deathbed conversion, dishonored himself and the Message he claimed to be proclaiming.
How do we as Christians clean up such a mess? That's a devotion for another day because something similar is happening this week.
In the wake of the cowardly and unspeakably evil violence in Orlando this past week, some Christians are saying and posting judgmental and hurtful comments, adding harm beyond measure to the violence visited by a cold-blooded murderer of innocents. Now is the time for the victims and their families and friends to hear loving messages expressing care and concern and prayers--and nothing else! Now is the time for the body of Christ and its individual representatives to demonstrate the kind of sacrificial love the Savior exhibited to them. Now is the time for us to be searching for ways to serve the hurting.
The Bible teaches that none of us are without sin, and that none of us are worthy of being in the presence of a Holy God, but Jesus died a horrible death to make every person a candidate for His grace and mercy and love. As believers, we remain exactly as flawed as our fellow humans who may not have met Jesus yet, so any words we speak should be uttered with that humble awareness. We are ambassadors for Christ, and while most of us have been overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, and many of us have been reduced to tears of frustration that the world produces the kind of hate that vents itself on the innocent, those Christians who choose instead to invoke judgment or rail about sin have embarrassed the body of Christ and may have driven people further from the one Person in history capable of loving them without condition.
We at Desired Haven are heartbroken over the suffering of those involved in the massacre in Orlando, and we have been, and will continue to lift them up in our prayers for the foreseeable future. May the loudest voices ringing in the ears of the hurting be the compassionate and humbly broken among us, in and outside of faith. And may those whose words have hurt others when they least needed to be hurt be confronted by God with an aim towards changing their hearts to reflect His heart better.