Most Americans were appalled at the slaughter in a gay night club in Orlando this past week. The outpouring of sympathy and compassion for the survivors as well as the victims' families was quick and seemingly universal. The words and acts of comfort, while never adequate, helped to soften the blow, at least for those of us not involved. As a follower of Jesus, I was blessed, even proud to hear of many of the churches, of the ordinary Christians, as well as some of our spokesmen reaching out.
The pundits and politicians, however, were confused. Should we call this a hate crime or a terrorist act? After all, the perpetrator, a Muslim, boasted that he was doing this as a follower of ISIS. And I believe many in the Evangelical community are also confused. We have been repeatedly told by many who claim to be our spokesmen that Islam is a great danger to America, threatening all we hold dear. And on the other hand, we've been told that there is a conspiracy afoot by the LGBT community and their "liberal" fellow travelers to destroy America. Throw in the fact that there are those of us who believe that every American has the right to own a semi-automatic weapon of mass destruction, and one can see why we are confused. Guns, Islam and the gay rights' agenda - three issues that are perceived as hot button issues - have converged in this horrible act.
But where would Jesus be in all of this? Where would we find the One who was accused of being "a glutton and a wine guzzler, a friend of tax collectors and sinners" (Luke 7:34)? Some readers were probably put off by the title of this post, but really, where would He be?
I believe His heart would be with the ones who reached out to those who were devastated by this tragedy. He would be with the survivors - people already discriminated against and now traumatized . He would be with the families of the dead and wounded, some of whom may have found out for the first time that their loved one was gay or lesbian or transgender and some whom may not have been reconciled with their loved one's condition. And He would be with the family of the dead killer as they attempt to deal with his actions. And He would be with those of the Muslim community who now find themselves even more the objects of suspicion and loathing.
I believe we who are followers of Jesus, have a responsibility as well as an opportunity to help these who are all victims, to know the love of Jesus. They need to know the loving compassionate Jesus, the One who left heaven's glory to become one of us. They don't need more condemnation and political pronouncements.
"When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9:36