Christians… What’s Next?

It was during the mid-afternoon this past Sunday when I heard the horrific news of yet another mass-shooting taking place in Orlando. Fifty people who bear the same image of God that you and I bear are now dead, with many others wounded and traumatized. Just a couple hours before I was speaking to a church about being people of peace and reconciliation. But now I feel the dissonance between being a people of peace and reconciliation among such hatred and violence because part of me knows that Christians in America are not really perceived as people of peace and reconciliation.

Whenever such macabre violence takes place, there is always a response. We want to voice our frustration as well as show our solidarity with the victims. But what next? Whenever mass-shootings occur there are a lot of other questions  raised. What do we do about gun violence? Mental health screening? Terrorism? And on and on the questions go. These questions bring out the best and worst of society, which is all available for instantaneous access through social-media. For some of the best responses, we have learned of some Muslims who gathered in prayer for the victims. It has also been reported that several Chick-fil A restaurants, founded by Christians who have infused Christian ideals into their business, in Orlando opened their restaurants to serve food to those lining up to donate blood.

But then there’s the ugliness, revealing questions how much animosity, discrimination, and self-interest above the interests of others shapes our thinking − Christians included. Not even a day passed and social-media was already filling up with Islamophobia and homophobia. Some of the same old political antagonisms began making their rounds out of fear that our individual rights are at risk, which is ironic considering that those murdered have already lost their rights. In the worst case scenario, there are even some professing Christians that twist the Bible in such perverse ways, like this Sacramento Baptist Pastor, that they praise evil as good.

Something is very wrong when our Christianity sounds more like American politics, Pharisaical judgmentalism, and anything else other than Jesus! And somethings got to change.

Most Christians I know want a society that reflects the values of Christianity. Fair enough. But know this… We can sing God Bless America to our hearts content and invoke the name of God in public discourse but that won’t do diddly squat. The mentioning of God in public doesn’t make a society Christian anymore than wearing a Stetson Western Hat makes one a cowboy. Change happens as we embody the gospel as our living faith, our way of life and that happens by first realizing that our way of life should reflect the life Jesus Christ lived himself. And if we want a “Christian” society, that is a society where there is love rather than hatred, peace rather than violence, reconciliation rather than division, etc… the presence of the kingdom of God, then it is upon Christians to show the way!

The apostle Paul desired that Christ would be formed in us because God’s redemptive goal is that we become conformed to the image of Christ (cf. Rom 8:29; Gal 4:19). Our formation in Christ must change and reimagine for us what it means to be Christian, how we read the Bible, and how we act as living embodiments of the gospel. If our understanding of Christianity, the way we read the Bible, and how we live does not resemble the life Jesus Christ lived, then we are wrong. This isn’t a call to perfectionism but a call to become the people Jesus gave his own life for us to be, and to stop trying to justify versions of Christianity that sound more like America or the Pharisees than Jesus Christ.

I don’t have the answers for how the Federal and State Governments should deal with the issues of violence, terrorism, and many other relevant issues. I really sure that I don’t have all the answers as to how embodying the gospel works itself out with every different issue. But I am sure that America doesn’t need you and I or any other Christians to argue about who should be the next President, how to address gun violence or terrorism, and so forth. What America does need, whether the nation knows it or not, is for us who are Christians to be Christians all the more and be, as local churches, living embodiments of the gospel demonstrating why the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. Let’s do this!

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4 responses to “Christians… What’s Next?

  1. The fact is there is still a large segment steeped in nationalism and newly clothed racism, not only within the Church of Christ, but also in other conservative denominations, that is feared and treated very gingerly,
    even within the so-called progressive movement.

    Rex, what you are saying in this post is very sound. However, the elephant in the room is that while there are others who would claim to walk the way of Jesus between the political opposites in this country, they still feel more of a connection with the culture of nationalism and dressed up prejudices within the church than they do with political and social progressives, a mindset that will always keep the church falling into a ditch.

    • Nationalism, which I consider a form of idolatry, is growing problem among Christians in America who want to conserve what they believe is a traditional America. However, I find the social-political liberal/progressive to be just the opposite side of the same coin that the social-political conservative/traditional operates on. That is, both sides seem to operate out of the same rule book, just with different visions. Local churches in America must let go of Democrat and Republican influences and learn to be a politic (the original meaning of ekklesia) of the gospel so that they may participate in extending the kingdom of God.

      Any ways, thanks for your comment!

  2. Sherry Duncan

    The truth in the matter is it doesn’t matter how many guns you take away sin is sin! He could have killed them with a knife and probably got more because they would have been hit in silence. It’s not the units the person holding it and it’s hard to change a person’s views once they grow up. God wiped out sinners and homosexuals several times in history. GOD HIMSELF said it was wrong and killed them. He told us in the old testament not to let them live. Sure we are tobe Christ like but sooner or later he’s gonna find someone who hates the sin and is going to wipe it out. Doesn’t matter who that person is. Doesn’t matter what weapon they used. Lucky it was a gun it could have been a bomb that cleared the whole block!

    • Seriously? If that was your son or daughter, your brother or sister, etc… killed in that nightclub, would you be saying how lucky that it was just a gun and not a bomb? That seems like a very callous sentiment and reminds me again of why we must read the Bible in light of Jesus and the life Jesus lived. God became a human like us in the person of Jesus so that he could give his life for people rather than wipe them out for their sins… and that includes sinners just like you and I.

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