"What We Think Does Not Matter"

I think it is finally about to happen.  A phenomenon I really did not think was possible, but now is rising to reality in the past week and a few days.  What am I speaking about, you may be wondering? The exploding of my head. That’s right! My noggin’ blowing up, from the growing pressure of what I hope is frustration from righteous anger and grief, over what I am hearing in cultural commentary concerning the massacre of 50 people at a night club in Orlando Florida.  As we have come to discover, a radicalized Muslim man savagely gunned down over 100 patrons of the Pulse nightclub, which exists specifically to promote and affirm those who either partake in or support those who practice homosexuality.
Over the past week, which has been the case when a nation shaking event occurs (such as Columbine, 911, Boston, Colorado movie shooting; pick whatever one comes to mind), people begin to declare “How did this happen?” or “Why did this happen?”  These questions arise from human nature, as does this question “What do you think about what has happened?” This question is why my head is about to explode.  For the last week, in answer to questions over the Orlando shooting, many have been giving their opinions.  Many of those opinions are given as fact, with little or no factual basis.  Some of the opinions are given as politically correct, arising from fear of reprisal.  Almost none give any real foundation for praying for Orlando or sorting out the “why” of the attack or give solutions for the very real sin problems of the violator or victims.

Most ludicrous are statements from LGBT activists, that Christians are to blame for the massacre, because we oppose gay marriage and LGBT civil rights. In their ignorance and flat out hate, they forget that radical Islamist’s have no problem hating Jews, Christians, Hindus, gays or any other political, religious or cultural bent that is opposite their own. thAnd though the president is doing his best to scrub the Islamic genesis for this crime from the public record, it should be clear that this crime had nothing to do with Christians or any doctrine of Christ.  Yet maddeningly, this kind of hate filled reasoning is finding traction. 
Feeding some of this asinine thinking are Christians, who are suggesting the victims got what they deserved, because of their militant and open pursuit of sexual immorality. This kind of thinking, is admittedly flawed, for they have no information this is why the shooting took place. It is interesting that these “prophets” of God’s judgment, only prophesy after the fact. They would be better off, duct taping their mouths and praying for God to fill their hearts with Christ’s love. Followers of Jesus are easy targets for blame, without comments made from men and woman, who are short on the God’s love in Jesus Christ and take delight in the trouble of their enemies.
From the political arena, the liberal side of the U.S. governmental house seeks to use this deadly event to push their agenda for gun control and greater power, while the conservative side will further dig their heals in, even on practical measures that could potentially serve some good purpose.  
Sadly, the answers concerning “What do you think” coming from Christian leaders are as nebulous and non-committal, as they are many. I believe we followers of Jesus have a sincere desire to give hope and speak truth, yet the vacuum is growing, with each passing day.
What do I think? I think we are missing the point.  Fifty one people are dead including the gun man, in a world so loved by God that He sent Jesus to save men from sin. Next month it could be 200, or 200,000 or 2,000,000.  Instead of asking for men and woman to pontificate or share our feelings, we ought to look back over the last twenty years and understand, our thinking is flawed and producing little change if any.  What I think or you think is unimportant. We followers of Jesus need to understand what God our Father thinks, as His holy word declares and live according to it. Let’s examine first what God thinks or declares about the death of these 51 people.
Because of Their Sin They Got What They Deserved
The kind of thinking that is entitled above is flawed from it inception, for it comes from a heart that does not understand how God desires to deal with sinners.  In Luke 13:1-4 Jesus, uses a widely known tragedy to deal with this kind of flawed thinking.  It seems that 18 people died in the collapse of the Tower of Siloam, and some believed the death of the 18 was for their being very great sinners.  Jesus declares that the sin of the 18 dead was not greater than other sinners in the rest of the city of Jerusalem.  He likewise tells all to repent, for all have sinned. This is very important, because many are using this flawed logic still, erroneously using the bible to promote their declarations.
These folks will declare that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their homosexuality, so why would not he sanction the death of the Orlando victims; possibly even ordain it. Interestingly this line of thought falls apart when understanding what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was: pride, overabundance of food, and abundance of idleness, and they were selfish (Ezekiel 16:48). This kind of environment led to grosser forms of sin, but it is not logical to assume every person in the cities was a homosexual. The real sadness of the situation was that there was only one righteous man (who was seeking to stay true to God, even though his choices are questionable). 
By proxy, we cannot assume all the clubbers that night were practicing the sin of homosexuality. We know at least one person who died hated homosexuals more than sufficiently to kill them; the shooter. This man hopped up on a demonic religious fundamentalism mowed down 103 humans beings. The violator following of a false god is no less sinful than the sexually immoral club goer.  Therefore to proclaim this massacre was “just desserts” is quite a stretch.   

How does God feel about those who perished? Ezekiel 18:23 in a rhetorical question declares, that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. We understand that it is God’s desire that all would be saved, repenting and avoiding judgment. We understand that God specifically delays judgment upon individuals in order to give them space to repent (II Peter 3:9).
We believer lament the encroachment radical Islam and militant and open LGBT have made into the culture of the nation in which we are living, and rightly so. That right state of grief does not give us the right to speak on God’s behalf, concerning judgment, when we do not know if it is God’s decree. 

It is biblical to assume, in both cases, that those in the night club were reaping what they were sowing to their flesh (Galatians 6:7-8). If the victims were not participating in or advocating and supportive of homosexuality they would not have been at the club at 2 a.m. in the morning.  If the shooter had not been seeking to prove his devoutness of faith, as well as his manliness to his father, he may have not have gone down the road of radical Islamic rage.  Both groups must take responsibility for their roles in the events.  
We must dig further still to understand God’s disposition against the wicked. Even though He takes no pleasure in their death, it does not mean He approves of their choices or overlooks them in the least. Psalm 7:11 declares that “God is angry with the wicked every day”. Scripture declares consistently that God will act in His anger, which it righteous, just and holy. Psalm 11:5 is explicitly clear about his anger “the one who loves violence His soul hates” and Psalm 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9 reveals “The Lord loves righteousness and haves iniquity”.

What does God do with His anger, if the wicked do not turn away from their wickedness? He will bring judgment upon Jesus return…

II Thessalonians 1:7-9 and to give you who are troubled rest when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
This passage is a clear indication of what God does with His anger against the wicked, even though He takes no pleasure in their death… He punishes them forever in fire, keeping them away from His presence. Note when this occurs is at Jesus return, yet even in this, He is exercising mercy, desiring repentance and relationship. Yet the wicked are not just homosexuals and murderers, but those who do not know God having rejected the good news of Jesus Christ death and resurrection on behalf of all men.  In II Thessalonians 2:8-12, we additionally find the wicked to be those who do not “receive a love of the truth“, “do not believe the truth” and “had pleasure in unrighteousness“. 
It is imperative that we believers declare that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, because He loves men and wants them to be saved.  We must declare how men can avoid the “just dessert” of eternal judgment through the Lamb of God. We must declare that for those who reject God’s gift of love in Jesus Christ judgment awaits. In light of these truths, we followers of Jesus must heed well the words of the Savior in Matthew 7:21-23. In this passage Jesus states that not every one who calls Him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, and even those who would appear to be super saints may be told “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity, I never knew you, even though they did much in His name.  God is angry with all the wicked.
Why is He So Angry
The begging question is why is God angry? The answer is that men reject His gift and definition of love for their own warped version. We understand that God’s love is clearest seen in Christ dying for men while they are still in their sin.  God chose to pay the penalty of our sin, with His own shed blood.  In return for God’s unmerited favor, most of humanity chooses to take a cheap counterfeit form of love. That counterfeit may be the lie of finding fulfillment in sexual perversion, or devotion to a false religious system, it could be atheism, seeking riches or a million other ways.  For this He is righteously angry. 
He is angry because people were not “born gay” but made male and female. He is angry because Islam is not a religion of peace, but a culture of death satanically designed to keep humanity in chains away from freedom in Christ. He is angry at a world that would rather explore the depths of their depravity, than know the immeasurable height, width, depth and breadth of His love. In spite of his righteous anger our Father’s desire is repentance and reconciliation. We who are His disciples should declare His answer and speak clearly about tragedies like Orlando, .  

Would Someone Please Tell Them What God Thinks
Perhaps what causes my head the most explosive pressure, is how we Christians respond to the whole “What do you think” questions. There have been many statements declaring how much we Christian’s must love the gay community more, and not to vilify them as the worse sinners than other. I agree with these comments and scorn comments like those previously noted, but how do you love the gay community more? 

Chik-Fil-A, a company bludgeoned by LGBT activists, which is owned and operated by a Christian family, stayed open on Sunday (against company policy) to serve those donating blood after the attacks. Can we love the LGBT’s more by providing chicken sandwiches and bottles of water? Why not, but loving them more, or the Muslim community must go further still. I totally support the actions of Chik-Fil-A and it does fall in line with many believers attitude concerning evangelism “They won’t want to know what you know, until they know you care”.
Although the above statement appeals to us on an intellectual and practical level, it not very biblical. Jesus first preached words in Mark’s gospel are “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. To our modern ears, His words sound archaic and possible judgmental.  I would conjecture his words displayed his care for people. Sadly our desire to let the the LGBT and Islamic community know we care, is driving much of our talking points surrounding these events and prior. Chicken sandwiches are a nice gesture, which is in line with the word of God (Romans 12:17-21).  We at times need to seize and opportunity to give to felt needs, but we must be careful how we communicate His love.

Before the U.S. supreme court ruled in favor of gay marriage, several prominent evangelical leaders got together to form Imago Dei, or the “Image of God”. These well meaning brothers sought, through declaration, to lessen the vitriolic rhetoric rising between people of faith and those who would call us bigoted and hateful; namely liberals and LGBT. In short the tag line is to see the image of God in all people whether black of white, rich or poor, gay or straight, liberal or conservative, victim or perpetrator, citizen or undocumented, believer or unbeliever.  This is a nice statement for sure, made to convey our love for all peoples, but it does not recognize some basic biblical factsIn the first place, God did make man in His image and His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). Yet this pretty much extended to the first parents, for after they fell into sin, they brought forth children in their own likeness (Genesis 5:3).

My point being, is it not enough to see all men in the above categories as lost and in need of Christ? The great equalizer between lost and saved is that we have all sinned and the only antidote to that condition is the cross. Is it not enough to declare His love through that cross. Why do we need to make professions like “Imago Dei” to communicate His love? Simply put we don’t need to but do so out of fear of being pegged as bigoted, or being targeted for persecution? This is what is so maddening to me. We must reject empty professions of love from fear and show God’s love to the LGBT and Islamic communities, by speaking the truth in love.

Let II Corinthians 5:17-21 be our guide.

  1. Tell them they can be transfomed (II Corinthians 5:17)
  2. Tell them this is possible through Jesus taking our sin and giving us His righteousness (II Corinthians 5:21)
  3. Tell them what this does in bringing us into reconciliation with God (II Corinthians 5:18-19)
  4. Tell them repeatedly with passion and power until they hear, kick us out or worse (II Corinthians 5:20).

Some would decry what I have suggested, believing this is why we are called bigoted, and that would be bologna. II Corinthians 4:1-3 says we are to manifest the truth (living it and proclaiming it) by commending or injecting our selves into the conscience of the lost. It is true this kind of love will most assuredly place us at risk of persecution and possibly death, but it seems to me this is what Jesus and the apostles did their entire ministries. We need to live by faith, refuse fear and love those who hate us with the message of God’s love, whether they repent or not.       

Let’s Seek to Re-frame the Question  
Lastly let me suggest we re-frame the question. It is interesting to me how narrowly focused these tragedies reveal Americans to be.  This is partially because the media works to frame the thinking of the entire nation, but also because we believers so easily get entangled in loaded questions. The next time you are asked what you think about a specific massacre of some sort, where the attention of the nation is on 51 people, try asking them what they think about…
  1. 23 good Christian me who were husbands, fathers, sons and citizens of Egypt who were beheaded for being followers of Jesus Christ on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
  2. Hundreds of thousands of Christians imprisoned for their faith, being beaten and tortured for Christ, all over the world.
  3. Hundreds of thousands of believers beaten, displaced, beheaded, tortured, raped, burned alive, crucified or sold as slaves or sex slaves at the hands if Isis in Syria or Iraq.

Ask them why it appears they are unconcerned for people, who were merely trying to live their lives according to the dictates of their faith. Maybe we believes should spend more time crafting our rhetoric in advocating for our brothers and sisters in Christ, rather than trying to convince the haters of Christ that we love them. Although God takes not pleasure in death of the wicked, we also know “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”.

About Michael J Erdel

Mike is a pastor with The Assembly of God Fellowship. He is the lead pastor at Encounter Church in Fostoria Ohio. His desire is to encourage the Church of Jesus Christ, and declare God's hope through His Son Jesus, to a world which is long on excuses and short on hope. Mike has experienced the truth that when we kneel before Christ, surrendering to Him as Savior and LORD, being led and empowered by His Spirit. To Jesus Christ be all glory and honor.
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2 Responses to "What We Think Does Not Matter"

  1. Rachel Zogg says:

    Wow…really true.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very true we must not ask what we think but what God thinks
    And we need to bring these people to Christ and tell them the truth.