Today there was a mass shooting at a gay nightclub near Orlando. At least 50 souls were ripped from their bodies and sent flying into eternity. Just a week ago the community was celebrating its 25th year of gay pride, but today the community mourns the loss of the people they loved.
The pastor at the church I grew up in gave a sermon on grief today because we have just lost a dear pastor to cancer last week. The pastor at my church near college, whose sermon I just finished listening to online, preached on how important the lost are to Christ. He said that Jesus ate with the sinners and the tax collectors – the social outcasts with questionable morals – and we should, too. That we should pattern our lives towards reaching those who are far from God, whether we like their worldviews, morals, political affiliations, and sexual orientations or not.
Neither of my pastors mentioned the shooting in Orlando (If Pastor David did, it was not in the online portion of his message). I don’t know why our churches did not stop and pray for the people of Orlando. But since they did not, I would like to invite you to. Their lack of words left some things needing to be said, but what they did say, was very clear:
In grief, we sit with those affected and grieve with them. We do not try to give them the answers or silence their pain, but we do hold them tight. And when they want us to talk, we tell them of the only Hope that may ease their pain.
In love, we pray, invest, and invite those around us. Because every human has an inherent value to God. And if they matter to God, then they had better matter to His people. The LGBT community is one of the most shunned communities of people by the Church. As my pastor said this morning: we do not have to condone the actions or lifestyles of others to love them. Jesus did not encourage the extortion by the tax collectors when He entered their homes and ate with them. He showed them who Love is and taught them about Himself.
So to the people like the Texas Lieutenant Governor who tweeted that these souls “reap what they sow,” I say that I pray that you do not reap what you sow. I pray that I do not. I pray that God’s mercy will cover me – cover anyone who reaches up to God in faith. May God grant you the time yet to do that, Sir, if you have not.
God does not laugh when the lost are murdered. He rejoices when disciples go out to the lost, help them find the way, and enter into His kingdom! And, helping them “find the way” is not help them become heterosexual. It’s not convincing them that our God hates their lifestyle, so they must repent. It’s sharing that the omnipotent God of the universe decided to come to earth, live among humankind, and die for the un-measurable weight of the sins of the whole earth. That is the Gospel, and if it convicts people to change their lives, than that is the power of the Holy Spirit, beyond any of our control.
So today, I urge you to pray for the people of Orlando. If you live in the area, please donate your blood if you are able, or anything else that you may be asked to do. Do not gloss over this tragedy just because they people who died might be different from you. Every life matters to God, because He did for them. They should matter to you, too.