Grieve--At our core, we ought to have a sense of sorrow over this event. Why? Because I guarantee you God does! 49 human lives were ended. (And there are still people in critical condition, so that number may rise.) Those 49 lives were not without meaning to our Heavenly Father, and they shouldn't be to us either. Did we agree with all of their beliefs or practices or worldviews? Probably not. But they were 49 people whom God loved. Regardless of their sexual orientation, God loved them (John 3:16). Despite whatever lifestyle they had chosen, God's desire was that every one of them would be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Whatever else may have been the case, Jesus Christ died on behalf of each and every one of them (Romans 5:8). How many of them died without being introduced to their Savior? Of course, we can't know for certain, but I'm terrified to speculate. But to not grieve over the loss of ANY human life is contrary to the heart of our God and it signifies a lack of understanding regarding the sanctity of life. So, not only is it appropriate to grieve, it would be wildly inappropriate to not grieve.
Pray--I know...it's obvious. But I hope you've joined the many Christians around the world who are praying for Orlando. Pray for the hurt of those who lost family members and friends. Pray for their community. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who live there and have opportunities to minister and witness. Pray for their wisdom; for their sensitivity; for their ability to offer love to their neighbors in Jesus' name. Pray for open doors...that survivors would be drawn to seek God through this tragedy. Pray that conversations about Jesus Christ would rise above the noise of the debates about other issues. Pray, pray, and then pray some more.
Listen and Be Ready--Keep your antennae up for opportunities for you to love and serve people around you. How? Most simply, listen. Romans 12:15 says that we should "mourn with those who mourn", and often, mourning just needs silence and empathy. It doesn't require that you change someone's mind about guns or sexuality. However, in opportunities to quietly mourn with others, do watch for opportunities to offer something critical: Hope. Situations like this remind us how desperate our world is for the Lord. Many people become acutely aware at times like these that they don't have an anchor; something to trust in. But you do! Don't pass up an opportunity right here in our own community to share your hope in Jesus Christ with someone!
- Pastor Paul