How should a Jesus Follower respond in times of tragedy like this weekend's attack in Orlando? Here are four steps to consider.
It’s happened again.
A massive attack on an unsuspecting group of people.
This time it’s on US soil.
This time it’s directed towards a group of people that has continued to be at odds with the “church” for quite some time.
And it is a tragedy…
How do we respond? We’re Jesus followers and, of course, our hearts are broken. People, made in God’s image, had their lives taken from them at a moments notice. And here we are distant, but affected.
So how do we best respond in a way that glorifies Jesus?
1. Pause and grieve.
When Jesus lost a close friend in John 11, he could have done a lot of things. He could have said, “Well now he’s in a better place with my father!” He could have snapped his fingers and caused a crazy miracle before Lazarus even died. He could have ignored the grief and moved on with his life. But he didn’t. It says right there in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
Jesus paused and cried with those who were crying. He did not make the moment anything more or anything less. He acknowledged the pain of brokenness in our world, and cried.
Body of Christ, take a moment to pause and grieve with those who are hurting this week. Do nothing more for a time, just pause and grieve. This moment of solidarity with the hurting is more meaningful than you could even imagine.
2. Keep the focus on Jesus.
Jesus followers, this is not a time for politics and opinions. This is a time for healing through Jesus. Maybe you have strong feelings on gun laws or immigration. Hear this. Now is not the time for these soapboxes. Tragedies are not strategies to show how right you are and how wrong the “other” side is. A tragedy is just that, a tragedy. Jesus did not use situations to glorify an agenda. He built relationships so that he could walk through situations with others to glorify his Father.
Instead of expressing your opinions on Facebook today, find a hurting person and listen to them. Walk with them. Cry with them. Take some time to read Romans 12:9-16, then ask God to show you how you can practice real love with someone today.
3. Earn a seat at the table.
The “church” as a whole has not always lived Jesus towards those identifying as LGBTQ. Our “agendas” have often been at odds, and we get swept up in emotion and forget that we are all made in God’s image. We’re all broken. Jesus died for each of us. Now, suddenly, there’s an immense tragedy affecting the people that many have neglected. We’re genuinely upset. We mean it when we say “We’re praying for you Orlando.” But somehow our words come across hollow and meaningless to those who need to hear it. Why? Because the phrase “sending thoughts and prayers” has been a hollow statement, used as PR and not real sentiment by many leaders both within the "church" and outside of it. So how do we go beyond “thoughts and prayers”? How do we really show the love of Jesus to people who are mourning now?
Well, Jesus followers, it’s not something that will happen overnight because of this tragedy. But it is something that you can start changing now. We must recognize that we don’t earn a seat of respect with people previously neglected just by offering a heartfelt Facebook post (or blog post for that matter). Words are nice, but they can be empty. Friends, it’s time to start meaningfully diving into relationships with other broken people.
Make this the time that you start to exit your comfort zone. Jesus was always living outside of the “religious comfort zone,” and it’s time that we start to follow his example again. Who do you know that doesn’t know Jesus yet? It’s time to invite them to join you and your family for dinner. It’s time to stop at their desk each day to just see how they’re doing. It’s time to remember their first name, last name, and hey, maybe even their birthday! Jesus is calling us to just be in relationships with other people. Isolation and cliques are Satan’s game. Connection is Kingdom work. Create relationships. Make an impact. Live Jesus. This is how you earn a seat at the table. This is how your words become full of life and meaning. This is how you reveal the love of the Father!
4. Finally, pray.
Pray hard. Pray for a long time. Pray honestly. Prayer is how you, Jesus follower, can gain the God-Wisdom and God-Power to continue to reveal his love in times of intense tragedy. Ask God to comfort you. Ask him to show you his love. Ask him to use your story so that others can know him personally the way that you know him. Pray that Jesus’ name is spread far and wide. Pray that every man, woman, boy, and girl would come to know him as their Father, Savior, Redeemer.
These are four things each of us can and should do in this time following a national tragedy. What are some things you think Jesus would do if he were physically here with us this week?