Sunday morning, I sat around the table with my crew and watch newscasters tell the story of unspeakable tragedy. We watched as still-shots and cell phone video painted a picture of evil still unfolding in Orlando, a city about two hours from where we were, essentially in our own back yards.
We shook our heads at the senseless act and the lost lives of young people who had their whole lives ahead of them. We wondered what went through the minds of the first responders, those firefighters and paramedics like us who had the unfortunate responsibility of organizing the chaos and triaging victims.
I envisioned dim club light and a sea of still bodies tagged black by medics frantically searching for someone they could actually help. Police engaged in negotiations with a man they knew had hurt people and was probably still hurting them had to feel as if they were caught in a vise of desperation to help and despair at not being able to right away.
Our hearts were heavy and minds reeling. Added to the mix inside of my own head was the knowledge that the links between homosexuality and God’s judgement were coming. Terrorism and the demand for violent justice was coming. Just about every ugly aspect of the event is going to be on full display in social media and every news outlet in the world. It was the deadliest attack in the United States since 9/11. It’s going to stay in the cycle for a long time. I pondered the reality that the impact was going to be far reaching and very little of it positive, affirming, or life-building.
So what can we do? How are we supposed to respond to events like this?
My friend Ginny Wilcox wrote this:
What we can do is not only pray without ceasing, we can let this day change us. We can let this day strengthen our resolve to love better, to be a light of love shining to those around us who may not even know there is such a thing. It is love that will change the world. All our words mean nothing if we don’t go out and demonstrate it.
We can be the defenders of those persecuted ones. We can extend unconditional love no matter what someone looks like, what they believe, who they love or even who they don’t. We can pray for those who are doing these senseless acts. We can pray and support the victims. We can be led to exactly where we are needed and most effective, if we can have ears that hear the heart of our Father. We can be the hand of kindness. We can bring a ray of sunshine and hope to the hopeless.
I wonder what would happen if we made the choice to speak LIFE into the world in the midst of our grief and outrage. If, instead of being drawn into the coming debates of homosexuality and judgement perpetrated by misguided people, we refuse to engage and make it a point to let those around us know that the light of Jesus is bright enough to overcome any darkness no matter how thick it is. Instead of crying out for the worlds sense of justice against anyone who would instigate and carry out such evil, understand and spread the news that kingdom justice is that everyone is healed and set free from the chains of our adversary.
In Philippians 4 Paul encourages us to focus on the lovely and pure things. He tells us to shift our eyes from darkness to light and in doing so peace and well-being will be with us.
I encourage you to consider carefully how you are going to respond to this event because it will have a dramatic impact on how you experience life. Choose to be a conduit of love and let the binding power of peace fasten you to the body of Yeshua. Don’t allow yourself to be seduced into senseless debates or welcome the heaviness that rests on the shoulders of those who don’t know Jesus is waiting to lift the burden.
There is so much to grieve in events like this and so many to grieve for. But as kingdom people who are alive in Yeshua, the critical decisions are always made in the midst of heavy emotions. The steps we take in the aftermath determine whether we are going to extend the darkness or introduce the light.
We are the light of the world. YOU are the light of the world, a crucial piece of that city on a hill. You have the power to shift the atmosphere because you are one with LIFE and LIGHT himself. Be the light so that those around you can see the light.
Jesse and Kara Birkey