Fear in the Church, or Beauty in the Ashes?

Just recently, in a small south TX town a deranged local towns-person entered a church during the 11 o’clock hour service and killed 27 people, walking pew to pew, gunning down innocent Texans, Christians, family members and friends.  The death of these brothers and sisters turned the spotlight on this little TX town, the people of the town, and their God.  Questions regarding why would God allow this, what do you say to explain it, and many similar and familiar question come rushing to the surface.

In Sutherland, TX, the strength of God’s people has shown bright.  Their light and their testimony has been strong.  Their shared truths of the comfort of God and the love of His people has been genuine and inspiring.  The attack of the enemy is a reminder of the battle.  Satan and his demons are active and he is capable of crippling and misleading the minds of men who open the door to him.  This is his earth where he roams, seeking to kill and destroy.   The sureness of God’s plan also shows clear to His people in this event.  God takes bad and works it to our good and His good.  Out of death comes life and out of this incident will come great Life.   Many Christians and non-Christians alike will have to confront the uncommon peace shown and the stories of comfort shared by the survivors of the victims.  The peace is not natural. It is supernatural.  Many non-Christians around the globe will have to confront the reality of life and death, and make a decision of how they will spend eternity.  Christians throughout this country will have to confront the shortness of this life and consider how they are spending their life on earth now.  Are we using the time we have wisely, working for a heavenly and eternal kingdom, or rather storing up worthless toys and treasures on this earth that will not last?

Around the country, every Christian church subsequently has to deal with the questions of congregational safety in their own church.   And the individual members have to consider their own safety, and subsequently their faith in the protection of God.  Many churches will respond with locked doors and armed guards and even a skeptical review of visitors.  Others will trust in the sovereignty of a great God and leave their doors open.  Those prior will base all on the premise that God gave us common sense to make decisions.  The latter will say and believe that God orders our steps and goes before us.  Others will fall somewhere in between.  But a couple of things are more sure and clear.  For one, there is no place for fear of man in our lives.  The fear and respect of God is the beginning of wisdom, while the fear of man, is the undermining of your Christian faith. Luke 12:4 puts the focus where it should be, Jesus said “And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do”.

Secondly, there is no place for holding too tightly to our own life.  For any real follower of Christ, his or her life has already been relinquished with the reins given to the Lord.  In Matthew 10:29, Jesus puts it directly, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”

What will your response to the killings at Sutherland Baptist Church be?  Will you be a captive of Satan-inspired fear?  Or will your faith in a great God and your surrender to Jesus as Lord increase?  Will fear supplant faith in your church?  Fear not!  Instead, look up and observe while God brings beauty from ashes.

Derek Dougherty

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