My Prediction (Sadly) Came True
It didn't take long.
I predicted to my congregation on Sunday morning that they would undoubtedly hear from some Christian pastor from somewhere that the victims of the worst mass shooting in American history deserved what they got.
Like I said, it didn't take long. Videos surfaced almost immediately of preachers declaring to their congregations that because this past Sunday's shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando happened in an establishment frequented by gay and lesbian patrons, it was obviously Divine punishment.
One prominent Christian leader actually spouted off and said that perhaps the best way to handle things would be to allow radical Muslims and the gay community to "kill each other." His organization immediately qualified his statement, claiming what he said didn't actually mean what it sounded like he said. But he said it.
Let them kill each other...
These aren't the kind of things that people who claim to follow Jesus ought to be saying, to be sure. But what also nags at me is the quiet, subtle judgment of so many Christians that leaks into their conversations about this horrible tragedy.
The subtle judgments I've seen and heard lately from far too many Christians seem to be fueled by assumptions that I believe are far afield at best---that the victims of the shooting (because they were predominantly from the gay and lesbian community) died outside of the grace of God.
In his second letter to the Church, the Apostle Peter talked about the return of Jesus, and why it was taking so long for the kingdom of God to be fully present on earth as it is in heaven. He explained:
"The Lord is not slow in doing what he promised--the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts and lives."
I believe that we should have the same desire in our hearts as God does. Our desire for everyone, anywhere should be that they be redeemed, rescued, embraced by God--by whatever means necessary, and according to God's time, and in God's way.
Who knows, honestly, what it looks like when God saves? Or how? Only that it is through Jesus Christ. And that it is what God wants more than anything.
And so, since it is not our job to know people's hearts and souls, or to be the judge determining their eternal destiny--we should focus on what actually is our job: To love them unconditionally.
May you love as Jesus loves, relentlessly and unconditionally. May you leave the salvation business to the One whose ultimate desire is that not any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. May you know this Jesus, and show this Jesus to one and all with joy and passion.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.