9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:9-18
At 2:00AM on Sunday, June 12, Jules, Caleb, Hannah, and I slept soundly at a hotel after a day at the Magic Kingdom celebrating the end of the school year and looking forward to the summer months. It had been a good day of family and laughter. We were tired, but in a good way…
Sixteen miles away the scene was quite different…
When Jules told me the news of the horrific attack, I thought of the literally hundreds of people I know who live in and around the Orlando area and wondered about their safety. I thought of how many crowded places we had been in the previous 48 hours and wondered about my family’s safety. I thought about the victims with the sobering reality of how monumental the loss of life was.
And then, with dread, I thought about the political rhetoric that would follow. Politicians and agenda-pushers pounce on tragedies to demonize, cast stones, and ultimately distract us from the real issues at hand and the real solutions.
One of my friends from seminary, Uri Brito, posted a thought about this that struck a chord of truth with me today… “We have lost our ability to grieve. We see a national tragedy and our first reaction is to propose an agenda. We are all utilitarians: ‘How can this tragedy serve my cause?’ We pragmatize pain and agony… We politicize grief because politicizing things offer us a breath of fresh elitist air. We don’t grieve. We fight. We war. But when we fight and war without grieving we fight for a lost cause.”
The thing that disturbs me so greatly about our nation, our churches, and our collective ideology is that we hold such a “winner-loser” mentality that we take any preschool-like opportunity to say, “See, I told you so; if we only (insert political statement here) then this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. Nannie-nannie-boo-boo!” Instead of working through our common grief, we get stuck at the anger stage, pointing the finger, passing the buck, and failing to acknowledge, for any substantial length of time, that human beings died. Men and women created in the image of God are gone. Families are devastated. Hearts are broken.
And right now, our only calling is to weep, mourn, and pray.
I am proud of my colleagues in ministry who are doing that in Orlando right now with people who need love and compassion. May God’s Spirit propel and inspire you as you seek to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.