Grace Communion International is one of 40 members of the National Association of Evangelicals. Recently the NAE released this motion.
At a time when terror and violence are wreaking havoc in so many parts of our world, we remember that Jesus also endured persecution and violence on our behalf. Through his suffering, death and resurrection he opened the way to life for all humankind. May the faithful witness of the martyrs “of whom the world is not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38) draw many to put their faith in Christ, our only hope.
I don’t know how you may respond when you hear the back-to-back news of the shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. Shock and outrage are common as the news streams across television stations and the internet. And then social media overwhelms us with a wide range of views on what immediate actions are needed (most responses are not helpful).
As Christians we are reminded of how broken this world is, and with the escalation of such stories, it’s easy to become desensitized. As Christians we should mourn and grieve for the senseless loss of lives, while we pray for peace and hope for the families and friends of the victims. And we must not forget to pray for the families of the shooters as well.
As the NAE motion states, “May the faithful witness of the martyrs ‘of whom the world is not worthy’ draw many to put their faith in Christ, our only hope.” The only hope to resolve the broken, violent attribute of humanity is for people to become new creatures in Christ. I pray that the Christian communities in El Paso and Dayton will rise up as genuine representatives of Jesus and be loving peacemakers who can point their neighbors to the only real hope, Jesus. May the church be the church to their communities in crisis.
As we pray for the hurting people of El Paso and Dayton, and the churches that serve them, let’s remember that we are beseeching a living God who is not absent or aloof in these tragedies, but is present in the person of Jesus Christ. We lament for the families whose lives have been forever altered, we lament for the police and medical workers who will be impacted by the memories of these horrific episodes, and most of all we lament the hate that fueled this violence. In our reflection and lamentation let’s be reminded of how much our world still needs to hear about the redeeming work of Jesus, and to be changed from people of anger, hate and violence, to people of love, joy and peace. Let’s be those messengers who tell others about the life-changing Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man.
The news of these tragedies is not as surprising as it once may have been, and unfortunately, we will hear more such reports as time goes by, so how will we respond? The sense of deep pain and loss is natural; the wrongness and the senselessness are also natural, but for those who trust in Jesus, despair is not an option. Despair leads to hopelessness and demise. In tragedies like our country experienced over the first weekend of August, it drives believers to their knees before the throne of heaven, and to come away knowing that as strong and penetrating as our laments may be, they are framed in the hope and promises of a sovereign God who will make all things new in his time. Events that may shake our faith are surprisingly events that build our faith.
Praying for the peace of the world.