SC Church Shooting & God’s Will (Selected Passages)
One of my goals as a minister is to help God’s people process life in a Biblical manner. Ever so often national events give me a chance to do this & recently the events in Charleston, SC present another chance to do just that. My goal is for you to process this event, & possibly your own, in a Biblical manner.
Dylan Roof walked in to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, sat in a Bible study for about an hour before shooting & killing nine people including the pastor. Since then there have been all kinds of responses from everyone in the media. Personally, I don’t care what Fox News, CNN, or any others say. What I want to do is think about it in a Biblical manner. So lets seek God’s wisdom today.
For thousands of years unexpected, senseless, & shocking deaths have occurred. One such event took place in Jesus’ day. He addressed two tragic events, one was a mass murder & the other a seeming random event that resulted in death. Were CNN to have interviewed Jesus we can be pretty sure THIS is what He would have said. Turn to Luke 13:1…
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled w/ their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, b/c they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell & killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Harsh? Unkind? Unloving? No! Jesus is using current events to make people consider the fragility of life & that they must always be ready to enter eternity!
We live in a broken world where tragic things happen. They happen to all people… good & bad, saved & unsaved. The issue is NOT that the event happened so much as are we ready for whatever events enter our lives?
Aside! If I could, I’d swap w/ any of those in the SC church tragedy! Think! They were believers. And where are they right now? With Jesus in heaven! This life’s struggle is over. They lived for Christ, but their death was GAIN! (Phil 1:21) Their physical pain may have been for a few moments… or a little longer, BUT NOW they are at home with Christ!! That is a GOOD thing!
The problem we have is that we don’t long for heaven as we should. We have too many ties to this world. We have forgotten that the only reason we live now is to prepare to live again in heaven. Thus when our brothers & sisters pass… sometimes in tragic ways… we sorrow w/out hope. 1 Thess 4:13…
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died & rose again, even so, thru Jesus, God will bring w/ him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven w/ a cry of command, w/ the voice of an archangel, & w/ the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together w/ them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, & so we will always be w/ the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Now let’s consider the events from heaven’s view. (Pause) Did you see the movie “The End Of The Spear?” It was about C’ian missionaries to Ecuador who were speared to death by those they sought to tell about Jesus. Five young men were murdered by Auca tribesmen.
Afterward the wife of Jim Eliot… Elisabeth Eliot… went back to the tribe & led them to become believers in Christ. A few years later Nate Saint’s son… Steve Saint… made the man who killed his dad (Kimo) the God-Father of his son! And now the tribe are all believers!!
The side bar to this is interesting. Steve Saint (Who’s dad was murdered) stated that it was God’s will for his dad to be killed SO THAT the Waodani tribe would come to Christ. His own words to this effect can be found online.[i] We don’t naturally think that way b/c our hearts have not contemplated the ways of God as we should. (PAUSE) Consider Is 55:8-9 where God says…
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways & My thoughts than your thoughts.
God is good & loving in all things. His purposes are always good, right, & holy. There is never a time that He causes or allows anything to happen that is not ULTIMATELY good & right! Think about this: “Just b/c you don’t see how something can be good doesn’t mean it isn’t good!”[ii] (REPEAT)
Now let’s consider again what God says in His Word!
(God) works all things after the counsel of His will… (Eph 1:11)
God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Ro 8:28)
Remember the former things long past, For I am God, & there is no other; I am God, & there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying,’My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure (Is 46:9-10)
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, & another for common use? (Ro 9:19-22)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. (Pr 3:5)
Here’s a questions I’ve asked before… “What can God do?” “Why?” B/c He’s God! When it comes to processing life events it is imperative that as believers we do so in a manner that glorifies God. It is essential that we say things in a manner in keeping with God’s Word & truth. We must not give in to the evaluations of the world!
Will it cause some to stumble? Possibly. But no more than when Jesus addressed the tower falling as we read earlier. The issue is not about a person who has access to a gun, but the condition of a person’s heart that resulted in murder. This is why we must share Jesus with everyone!
Truth be told… there will be more events that transpire like those in SC last week. The ultimate truth is this, God is moving this world to a final reckoning. The day & time when He will return in glory and power. Until then, Christians are called to live in a manner that glorifies Him, regardless of what they are or how they take place.
The events in SC were a tragedy. But there will be more. The question is whether or not we are read IF they enter our life. The question is if our friends and family are ready if they enter THEIR life. The question is whether we are able to communicate God’s truth to a society that is searching for an answer, which is only Jesus.
[ii] Tim Keller