On October 1, we witnessed a tragedy that cut us all to the very core. A young man walked into a community college in Roseburg, Oregon and shot and killed nine students and wounding many others. He walked into one of the classrooms on the campus and ordered all the students there to get on the floor. He asked them to stand up and proceeded to ask them if they were Christian. If their answer was yes, he shot and killed them immediately.
This has become a sadly familiar narrative in our lives. Not so long ago, school and community shootings were less common, but that has changed quite a bit. It is not just the brutality of such shootings that is so shocking, it is the fact that they are increasingly being aimed at those who confess Jesus Christ as their Savior. The shootings in Roseburg, Charleston, and last year at Seattle Pacific University are stark reminders that Christians are not widely accepted or well received, wherever we go. With two of these shootings occurring within a 6-hour radius of where I currently go to school it makes me stop and think about why these shootings happen. Why does God "allow" these shootings to happen? What are we to do as we live our day-to-day lives?
The answer to the first question is that we live in a sin-filled world where sin's power grips our flesh, and it resides in all our hearts and minds. God first created us to be complete, sinless, and holy before Him. There was no sin, no hatred towards God. All creation was in harmony with Him and with all creatures. However, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They chose for their life the death of sin. As a consequence, they drug all of creation down with them. Murder, hate, and prejudice are a result of the fall into sin and they continue to wreak havoc on the world and in our lives. The world has no love for God or His creation. The world hates Him, despises His Christ, and therefore the world hates those who believe and trust in Savior God.
So then how do we live in the world as Christians? I saw a comment on a friend's Facebook post that talked about how he hopes Christians will be more encouraged to study and confess their faith in the midst of these shootings. He points us to the truth that we have a hope outside of us and what we do. We have been given an eternal, indestructible hope in the death of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Acts, when Stephen is brought before the council, he knows he will be persecuted for preaching Christ crucified, but he does it anyway. He confessed Christ, because he knew that even in the midst of persecution and death, Christ had already died and saved him from this sinful world. St. Paul also said that living in this world would allow him to continue to preach the Gospel. But, if he was killed for confessing his faith, he would get to be with Christ-away from his present suffering.
Therefore, I encourage all my brothers and sisters in Christ, do not despair! Jesus has already died your death and been raised again for you, for all the sins, evil, suffering and death of this world. We will continue to live as we have always done, in love and service to our neighbor. We will continue to confess our sins and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. He will sustain us in faith and love through our trials. He will strengthen us so that we never have to fear this world's judgment-even a judgment unto death. We have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; what can this world's persecution do to us?
May He continue to strengthen and keep us in saving faith from our last day until the Last Day!
My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine!
While life's dark maze I tread,
And griefs around me spread, be Thou my guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow's tears away,
Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.
When ends life's transient dream,
When death's cold sullen stream over me roll;
Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!
LSB 702 vs. 1,3 and 4
Monica Berndt is a member at Messiah Lutheran Church in Seattle, Washington and attends the University of Washington. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Created: October 11th, 2015