I logged onto wifi and as usual headed over to the bbc website to see what was going on in the world before I turned on some sweet romcom to laugh and ugly cry through on netflix. I was blown away when the headlines were full of articles about a mass shooting in my home country.
It doesn't matter how much time you've spent around "war" or "terrorism", something different triggers inside of you when it's close to home.
I'm sitting in an airport about to board a plane to a nation that houses the largest concentration of ISIS fighters and I can't stop thinking about Orlando.
I'm intrigued by the conversations that are stirred up when matters like this happen. Of course I expect the gun control debate to be a prime topic, ISIS, terrorism, radical extremesist naturally, why we're even discussing the homosexual issue I'm not so sure about, but one thing I know for sure, tragedy always brings out opinions.
We've created a monster in our generation. A monster that I'm using right now.
We've told people they have a voice and we've given them a platform for that voice. We've created a place where anyone and everyone can share their thoughts and feelings for the masses. At times I find this to be the greatest tool for the Gospel and at times I find it to be its greatest hindrance.
My heart is heavy over Orlando. My heart hurts for the many people who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones, the injured, and even those who will simply have nightmares of this horrific event. But... my heart also hurts for the shooter. My heart also hurts for ISIS.
I can't imagine what it must feel like to spend your whole life radically serving a god that doesn't exist, only one day to wake up and realize you had it all wrong. Today Mr. Omar Mateen knows that he gave his life and sacrificed the lives of others for an ideology and not for Truth.
What strong beliefs they must have that causes them to go into a nightclub and kill 50 people in the name of "god". What strong beliefs it must take for someone to strap a bomb to your chest to kill yourself and others because you believe that is obedience. Heck sometimes it's hard to find Christians who will read their Bible in the name of obedience. It's even harder to find ones who will love their enemies simply because Jesus said to.
Perhaps Islam is your enemy and perhaps that's why your duty is to love them?
I hate to admit it but when I look at Mr. Mateen I realize that I'm not much different than him. I'm getting ready to board a plane to go into a nation dominated by terrorism because I believe God said to. Some say it's risky, some say it's stupid, so many don't understand why I would ever go to a predominantly muslim nation. The thing is we see the hurting, the broken, the muslims, the abused... we see injustice and we believe it breaks God's heart. So... we do something about it.
I imagine as Mr. Mateen walked into that nightclub he looked at people practicing sin and somewhere inside his theology he had the belief that his dedication to his god required him to take action.
Everything inside me yearns for terrorists to see the True God. Yes a God of Justice. Yes a God of righteousness. Yes a HOLY God. But also a God of love. A God of patience, kindness, and mercy. Oh undoubtedly in our human condition we deserved death, but God so full of mercy was not asking for our death. Oh Mr. Mateen if only you had known that Jesus has come and His blood paid the price that your life couldn't pay. Oh if only you had known that yes, God detests sin, but He's also defeated it. He's not afraid of it, nor is He trying to use you to eradicate it.
We don't teach people the way by killing them (whether they are homosexuals or terrorists) we teach them the way Jesus did. By living such an extravagant laid down servant life that even our greatest enemies are baffled.
Jesus would have shown love to those in the nightclub and Mr. Mateen, he would have shown love to you too. He would have lounged with them and as He spoke to them He wouldn't compromise Truth, but His words would have been so full of love that even if they didn't agree they would note that something was different about Him. Jesus exposed sin in a way that people still felt deeply loved. Can you imagine that?
It's when we spend time with Love Himself that our actions and our speech become so drenched in love that those around us are willing to listen to what we have to say. My goal is not to become more alarmed or angered with people's sin from the drug addict I saw shooting up on the street the other night, the alcoholic I met the other day who had lost his kids because of his addiction, the many prostitutes I've worked with, the homosexuals, or the rebels, rapists, or terrorists. Sadly I've found that often the only difference between their sin and some of the sin we see in the church is that church people wear masks over it.
My response isn't kill the sinners, but rather introduce them to the God of Love who conquered sin. It's amazing what someone will do for love that they won't do for obedience. Imagine what these dedicated terrorists would do for God if they actually knew LOVE. Imagine what the church would do for Him, if we knew love.
Today I pray for everyone affected by the shooting. I pray peace. I pray healing. I pray that God would encounter them in their heartbreak. He is always near the brokenhearted. May their hearts be tender enough to feel His soothing touch.
Today I pray for ISIS and the terrorists. Oh ISIS you are so spiritually dedicated and yet so spiritually deceived. I pray that Saul's would become Paul's. I pray that you would be converted in masse to the God of love, to the Way the Truth the Life, Jesus Christ. As you are converted I pray you won't lose your tenacity, but you would change your faithful discipline from Allah to Jesus and you would become the greatest evangelistic and missions movement the world has ever seen.
Today I pray for the body of Christ. I pray that you would have compassion on those who lost loved ones. I pray that you would set aside your political agendas and just do the words of Jesus, "Love your enemies." I pray that you would find it in your heart to pray for all involved, victims and perpetrators. And as always I pray we would unify, John 17, that we would be One so that the world will know that God sent Jesus.