I’m sure you have heard about the tragic events that took place in Orlando over the past weekend. I have heard many different reactions and responses since then. Some appropriate and some inappropriate. Political and religious. Loving and hateful.
I am not going to get into the issues of homosexuality, gun control, and terrorism. I just want to remind people of Jesus’ words when it comes to loving our neighbors and helping others. I’m sure no matter what I write I’ll still piss somebody off, though.
First, I want to address the churches who rather than offer help and support for the victims and their families, took the opportunity to condemn and preach hate. Listen to Jesus’ words regarding the Pharisees (the religious zealots of his day) in Matthew 23.
“So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.” – vv. 3-4
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.” – v. 13
Who do you think shows the love of Christ at work in their lives? The churches who were spewing hate or the churches who either helped or at least took the time to pray and participate in some of the vigils.
I commend not just churches but the Christian and nonchristian individuals who offered help and support. I am sure it was appreciated.
Jesus tells us “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
If something as terrible as what happened in Orlando were to happen to any of us or our family and friends wouldn’t we want to be helped and treated with decency?
Jesus later tells the story of the good Samaritan. Basically, in this story a man was robbed, beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. Two different religious leaders (law keepers) saw the man and kept on going. But a Samaritan saw him and cleaned him up. He also made sure he had a place to stay while he healed.
There are a few lessons that could be taken from this story. But I want to say that it is the responsibility of us as individuals to help our neighbors. It is so easy to assume someone else will take care of it.
It’s easy to shift the responsibility to the government and a lot of times the government should do something. But what would it say about us as a country if no one ever helped their neighbor?
It’s also easy to assume church leadership should or will do something, especially if your church usually does a lot for the community outside of the church. But what does it say about us as Christians if we sit back and do nothing except give money? How can the rest of the world see the love of Christ if they don’t get to see it lived out through our lives as individuals?
I want to once again commend those who did help. But I also want to challenge us all to do what we can to love and help our neighbors when we can.
We don’t have to wait for another tragedy to do it. There are so many ways we can do this every day. Whether it be a smile and asking how someone is doing to providing a meal for someone who can’t get around or fix something around the house for them.
Love your neighbor!