I have thought of 1000 ways to start this piece and I have considered not writing it 2000 times. However, Christians are always called to speak about truth in a loving way, especially in times of oppression, hate, and injustice. Christians, like myself, are not given the worldly privilege of silence in the face of oppression. We are told to be well informed of and engaged in culture, leading in a way that represents the Kingdom of God, even when it goes against the grain of what society dictates as right. With that in mind, my intention for writing this piece is to speak the truth in love. I want to remind the reader that I am no experts in these sorts of affairs but instead, I am simply a sinner saved by God. Nonetheless, let’s start this conversation off with a little context.
On March 15th, 2019, a gunman went into 2 mosques and opened fired on the Muslims in attendance, killing roughly 50 people. The man claimed to be a fascist whose actions were rooted in his belief that Muslims were a threat to his culture and beliefs as a white man. Now that we are all informed about what happened, let’s start with what may be the most important parts of this piece: Weeping with those who weep. There are 1000 things we can discuss revolving this complex issue but first, let’s take a moment to not discuss immigration, gun laws, and religious differences. Instead, let us start, especially if you are a Christian, with lamenting over what happened.
This shooting, plain and simple, is an utterly detestable act of malice towards this man’s own neighbors and it is clearly sinful. I want to genuinely lament with these words, my prayers and my actions with members of the Muslim community. I am deeply distressed and saddened by the wicked acts of destruction aimed towards them and any other community that faces this type of persecution. As a Christian, I understand that God will bring judgment on the wicked, and until then while I am on earth I understand the call God has given us a call to love my neighbors. God’s call to love our neighbor is without exemption, and it is a call that stands directly against the self-seeking justice we often strive for through our violent means.
Let me inform my non-Christian readers and remind my Christian readers that this man’s actions are by no means the moral will of God. I do not believe that Muslims have the truth, and I want to share the Gospel with them so that they may know Jesus. They are different than me and they have a different culture which means that I have a great opportunity to love them and talk to them about Christianity as I get to know them. God wants people of all kinds to come to know his son Jesus Christ. Killing people and murdering innocent children on the premise of cultural disagreement and fear of close community is one of the furthest things regarding God’s call for people.
I want to love my persecuted neighbors, with every fiber of my being and I want to welcome them into community with me. As a Christian, the cornerstone of my ability to do this is my willingness and desire to call them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through evangelism. All Christians must show their neighbors the Gospel by living it out and verbally confessing it. The Gospel is well defined in John 3:16-17:
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
You see, Evangelism, or sharing the Gospel with someone is the opposite of murder. It is a call to life and unity based on the truth of what Jesus has done on the cross. This mass shooting is a vile act of murder meant to cease the creation of a diverse community, whereas Jesus was crucified in a vile act of murder so that we could have diverse community inside the Christian body of believers. God calls people of every nation and language to follow him in the Great Commission Matthew 28:18-20. If we want to change the hearts of Muslims, let alone the awful heart of the extremist who tries to kill them, we must share with them all the good news. Not all will accept it, but it still must be confessed. We all need this truth because we are all wicked and in need of a savior.
Now let me be clear, I am explicitly stating that to love your neighbor you must share the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus did not die on the cross to save you so that you could silently watch your college neighbor drink himself into alcoholism. Nor did Jesus did give us the great commission to preach the gospel so that we could write blogs and post Instagram Stories about God, hoping an atheist friend of ours may hear the Gospel that we never cared to intentionally share with them directly. I am using these examples because they convict me and most likely many of my readers.
Now you may think, “I cannot believe he is bringing evangelism into the conversation of this shooting, this man wasn’t a Christian. Even if he was, how is evangelism the answer to this mess?”. If you feel this way let me tell you that I believe that only God can change someone’s heart. I believe God brings perfect Justice for his people. I believe it is the will of God for all to know him and be with him in heaven and that God detests the actions of the wicked. It is because of his Holiness that God calls us to live holy and righteous lives. But due to our sin that causes such great evil in this world, we are not able to abide in the presence of God and be with Him without the loving sacrifice of Jesus. Because of this, I believe the only way to cease the fear of other cultures is to find common ground at the cross of Jesus Christ. I believe that we must rest in the promise that God brings justice and the promise that God wants to bring more people to know him on earth before they see him in heaven.
Closing Thoughts: Idolatry (reading is optional)
Why did I take so long explaining all of these things about how Christians should live and speak about the Gospel? Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to all things. Because the world will tell us 1000 ways to respond to this shooting. Let me ask my readers some rhetorical questions: Do you care about those who were affected, or are they pawns and examples in your political opinions on immigration and gun control? If you are a Christian will your neighbor who despises your faith see you look to your political party in this situation or to your God who you claim is supreme? If you have a Muslim or Atheist friend, how will your response to these sorts of events glorify God and point to him as true salvation?