Church Shootings Are New, Church Persecutions Are Not

Well, I had another blog all ready to go. I kid you not it was about “Love.” I’ll bust it out in the next couple weeks, but any time something gigantic happens in the news I want to respond to it. A bad, evil dude walked into a little church in Texas and shot 20+ people. What are churches supposed to do about this? I’ve thought about this before, but obviously it just leaped backed into the forefront. I’ve already gotten the texts from people from church on finally meeting with someone on training for handling an active shooter. I have no answers for you today ladies and gentlemen, I just want to share some thoughts. My first reaction to this is, of course… what the heck!?! What can men do against such reckless hate! My immediate thoughts were, “what a weird time we live in,” but then, soon after, I realized that this is actually the ordinary for the church. The last couple hundred years in America has been the aberration. Not fearing a malicious murderer is unique to this time and place.

Read a couple of these quotes from church history:

Minucius Felix, AD 230

It’s a beautiful thing to God when a Christian does battle with pain. When he faces threats, punishments and tortures by mocking death and treading underfoot the horror of the executioner; when he raises up his freedom in Christ as a standard before kings and princes; when he yields to God alone, and—triumphant and victorious—he tramples upon the very man who has pronounced the sentence upon him … God finds all these things beautiful. (The Octavius 37)

Tertullian, AD 210

Nor does your cruelty, however exquisite, do you any good. It’s just a temptation to us. The more often we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed. (Apology 50)

Eusebius, 323

Regarding their great sufferings as little, they hastened to Christ, revealing truly that ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us.” (Church History. Book V. Chapter I. Par. 3-6.)

Martin Luther, 1546

The Church then, is in the BEST state, when Satan assaileth it on every side … both with subtle sleights, and outright violence. And likewise it is in the WORST state when it is most at peace.

Leonard Ravenhill, 1994

The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.

These quotes blow my mind. There’s such a readiness to face their demise. They almost relished in it. They expected it. They didn’t even understand Christianity without it. They honestly don’t seem prepared to kill their attackers. There are many who hid and ran away, but few who fought back. Is it just because they couldn’t? When you have a whole empire after you is it different?

I have heard of pastors with guns in their pulpits, I have seen armed security around “famous” pastors, I know of churches who have several armed church members who sit in the back ready to pounce into action. Living in Pasco County Florida I can tell you without any shock that like many other churches in the area our membership is decently armed. You’d assume that a church in rural Texas would be too. The truth is it can all happen so fast that there’s hardly time to react. Again, what are churches supposed to do? I can tell you personally, that I’m ready to be a martyr. (I don’t want it per say, but I don’t fear it. I think there’s worse ways to die.) I hope I wouldn’t freeze up in any way and I’d be able to dive in front of a bullet for any of my family and any of my church family. I would MUCH rather die than any of them, and I personally would rather die than have the evil gunman die. I would hope for them to repent one day and trust Christ as their Savior. The rub honestly comes in on whether I would rather have the gunman die or one of my family or church members. Truthfully, I’d rather the gunman die. I don’t know if that’s the right answer or not, but I’m just being honest. So if that’s the case, when am I getting armed ex-Mossad mercenaries to protect my church? I don’t think we are going to do that. I think we might get some training but it’ll just be to help us feel safer.

I wonder what the families of those killed at church are thinking? I’m sure “where was God to protect them” is pretty high on that list. The answer was that He was there with tear filled eyes. Why didn’t He stop it then?!? I don’t know. I don’t speak for God. There are some questions where we might not even be able to understand the answer even if He gave us one. The truth is there is no answer that would satisfy. “I had that lunatic do this to bring those believers to heaven immediately.” “I had that murder do this to my church to get Christians in America to really begin to think about their faith.” “I did it to (fill in the blank with your best reason why.” None of them would satisfy and God doesn’t have to tell us why. What if God froze time like Professor X did in X-Men 2 and sat down and talked with each and every person killed and asked them if they were ready for this to happen? If someone wasn’t ready maybe he Men in Black flashy-thinged them, but if they were ready He hugged them real tight as the gun went off. Maybe Jesus told them why this was happening and showed them the whole incredible plan that would then unfold because of this horrific event. Maybe they got to meet the people who would be saved. Maybe they got to meet the people whose lives were changed for the better. Perhaps those who were murdered got to request comforters to fly-in and love on their mourning loved ones. Would I take that deal? Yeah, I would. Would other church members in my church? Yeah, I think so. Would my kids take that deal? Maybe. Obviously I have no idea if God did that. Do I think He has done that? Yeah, I do. Do I think He does things even better than that? Yep. Why do I think such nonsense? Because God is Good. He always has been Good and always will be Good. He’s better than us. He’s better than me and infinitely smarter and more creative.

I’m not the one to ask on what a church should do to protect the sheep from physical assault. I’m better at handling the spiritual assault. I’m more equipped to handle the fiery darts from the devil than a madman. Perhaps God will raise-up the shepherd who is to protect us from more worldly threats. Until then, I pray for those who lost loved ones in Texas today. I pray for protection for all other church members everywhere. But I trust God to do what’s best for His Kingdom and for His Glory. We are here on this earth for but a moment. I wish only to live well for Him. I’ll leave you with this quote:

Psalm 34:15-18 

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

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