“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” – John 3:17
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:8, 15-17
A part of me has been avoiding this. To speak in the aftermath of the unspeakable is trite at best, and at worst, does more damage when the damage is already beyond measuring.
You don’t need me to recount the events of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I know the images are burned into your brain as they are into mine. But something else is burning in me as well. It’s not anger or emotion – though I’ve felt those, too. This burning is a sense of urgency, a sense that I don’t want to miss another wake-up call, a sense that I can’t press the snooze button again, and I need to turn the light switch on.
I’m not here to try to give any explanation. To try to read the mind of God at a time like this only incenses the hurting and insults the God Whose thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). And I’m not going to touch the political issues, because I believe there is a far more eternal issue for those who know Christ.
It comes down to this – for the Christian, tragedy should be a light switch. We are called to be light, and that calling is never louder than it is at moments like this. I’ll admit, there are times that I catch myself hitting the snooze button, thinking that I have all the time in the world to reach the people that God has put in my path (Matthew 26:41, Mark 13:33). But when we are reminded how quickly and unexpectedly life can be snuffed out, when we are reminded how fragile even the strongest and liveliest among us are, when we realize just how unsure our existence is outside of the grace of God, we have to redouble our efforts, redeem the time, and reach the lost (John 9:4-5, Ephesians 5:16, Jude 1:23).
I’ll admit, too, that there are times when silence feels safer. People are so enraged with grief that a Christian can’t say anything right, and our faith-fueled insights are unwelcome in most forums. But today, the world is a darker place than it’s ever been, and God’s children – the children of light – need to shine brighter than ever before. We need to avoid the temptation to engage in hate-speak, (I Timothy 2:1-3), but more than ever, we are called to a ministry of mercy and reconciliation (II Corinthians 4:1-4, 5:18-19).
Don’t you see? These awful moments that leave people searching are divine appointments for believers. Light their way to God. We may not have all the answers, but we have The Answer for a lost and dying world (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Don’t miss the moment. Don’t be so busy defending your position that you lose sight of your mission.
Love – even when confronted with hate. Pray – even when they don’t want your prayers. Pray that God will soften hearts, open doors, and grant boldness at just the right moment – not a boldness that bullies or responds to every jab, but a boldness that loves the not-so-lovable and reaches into darkness to pull people towards the light (Proverbs 15:1-2, Colossians 4:5-6).
Live a life that unashamedly points people to God. Give the Gospel every chance you get. Resist the urge to fit in and fly under the radar. Embrace your place in this world as a “city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14-16), but be a city without walls – open and approachable. Always speak the truth, but never without love. And when God sends a softened soul your way, be ready with the gracious, scripture-based truth that they need (Ephesians 4:14-15, Hebrews 6:19, James 3:17, I Peter 3:15).
God will surprise us with His grace again. Souls will come to salvation, and His purposes will come to pass, in spite of evil. Keep the faith. Share your faith. And always keep your light-switch in the “on” position.
Ask God for the wisdom, strength, and grace to be a light in the darkest of times. Pray for the hurting and the searching – and light their way to the cross.