Closer to Home
Today I speak to you from the heart. Once again, we are faced with dealing with another senseless tragedy. This time, at a place of worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX. All mass shootings are evil, yet it seems more eerie when it happens in a church. I got the same eerie feeling when Dylan Roof killed 9 people at Emmanuel African American Episcopal Church two years ago.
I don’t think a mass shooting inside of a church setting is more tragic than one that happens outside one. It just hits closer to home. I see my life in them. The last report I read there were at least 26 dead and 20 wounded. Among the dead is the teenage daughter of the pastor and his wife, and the couple were traveling out of state when the shooting occurred. As a former pastor and father of two daughters, I can’t find the words to describe how much I empathize with this situation.
Another reason why this event is so jarring is I see it as an aberration, and maybe I shouldn’t. Every week in Gospel-hostile countries thousands of Christians attend worship services fully conscious of the fact that attendance puts her or his life in jeopardy. It’s moments like this that cause me to pause and ask, “Would I go to church if that was the case for me?” Events like yesterday remind me that at any moment, it could be the case.
Our enemy is real, not a myth. The Bible says Satan seeks to steal, kill, and destroy everything that God created. One blog I read about this tragedy commented that as Christians, we can’t pretend like we’re not being hunted, because the reality is we are. Let that sink in for a moment.
This tragedy is a powerful reminder of why we do what we do. It doesn’t matter what your position is in the Church. We are working towards fulfilling the Great Commission by living out the first and second greatest commandments. We matter more than we know. Today I offer up this corporate prayer for all of us:
Lord, we come boldly before your throne asking the Holy Spirit to be the comforter of the people of Sutherland Springs. Tremendous trauma has taken place, and years of healing will have to occur. At all times, let them know that You are with them during their suffering. We pray this in your Holy Name, Amen.
November 8, 2017 | Paul Schliep
Well said. And oh so true. Thanks, Alvin.