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A biblical response to the Chattanooga Shootings, Part 2

July 30, 2015

Grace to you! Last week we saw that our modern society’s failure to hold to absolute truth leaves us unable to discern between good and evil. We also understood what Jesus meant to ‘not judge wrongly but righteously.” (John 7:24) Christians are called to make judgment calls about right and wrong and contrary to popular opinion that is not being judgmental. Again, those who harass others about judging are doing the very thing at that moment they are supposedly condemning others for doing: being judgmental. In short, how do you know I’m judging unless you are judging my actions?! Apparently with secularist’s thinking, it’s only their ‘judging’ that isn’t judgmental!

But we need further biblical reflection on the Chattanooga shootings. Jesus calls us to, “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” (Matthew 5:44) Let’s talk about what this does and does not mean! First, what does this mean? It means that we should be for the shooter’s family in a certain, defined way. It means we should desire for his family, friends, associates, and others like him to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Jim Elliot was a Christian missionary that was murdered by tribesmen he was seeking to reach. His wife Elisabeth Elliot stayed to continue the work with the natives and prayed for them to come to know Christ. Later, many of the tribe’s people including Jim’s murderers came to savingly know Jesus Christ and their lives were radically changed! Their story can be found in the book “Through The Gates of Splendor.”

We should pray for and minister to all those who seek to promote evil. As a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, I shouldn’t mind losing my life for the sake of the gospel in sharing it with others. However, this is not the whole story. Wise ‘judgment’ has us to think of the other side of the coin. God has also made me a citizen of the kingdom of this world. It’s here where we find out what Jesus did not mean when He told us to ‘love our enemies.’

Christ’s radical call to love our enemies does not rule out what should be done to protect innocent lives in society nor the punishment of the wicked for their evil deeds. Assuming the shooter had survived, Christians should have prayed for him, ministered to him, sought to lead him to Christ, and called for the death penalty all at the same time. This is contrary to the world’s mindset who says give only mercy and therefore don’t take his life for his crime. Or others want to focus only on justice and therefore desire to see him ‘pay with his life’ for his crimes. But biblically, we should seek for justice and mercy. Just like at the cross. What happened there? Was it justice or mercy? It was both. The justice due our sin was poured out on Christ. Why? Because in mercy He decided to take our place for us. Why again? So God’s justice would be satisfied and I could be accepted by God in His mercy.

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