If the definition of sin is “missing the mark,” which it is by the way, then this is a sinful response to tragedy. Mike Huckabee has missed the mark. He’s missed God’s heart. He’s missed the gospel. He’s missed Scripture’s crystal clear instructions. I really hope that conservative Christians who love the Word of God will cry out against this—that we will be clear and upfront with our non-believing friends that Huckabee’s is not a Christian representation of the God of the Bible in response to tragedy.
God gives us clarity in His Word. “Weep with those who weep,” the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 12. Mourn with those who mourn. “Comfort those with the comfort you have received” (2 Cor. 1). One pastor friend noted to me that the most disgusting part of Huckabee’s statement was the opportunism of it.
opportunism: the art, policy, or practice of taking advantage of opportunities or circumstances often with little regard for principles or consequences.
There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, and if this is the best you have to offer people, this was the time to be silent.
I know many, many unbelieving people. Heck, I live in Seattle. Most of my acquaintances and many of my friends are struggling on the brink of unbelief or not believers altogether. NO ONE I know needs someone to convince them of the ugliness, the sinfulness, of what happened Friday. They are faced with it head on. And, frankly, few of them don’t struggle with their own personal guilt too. And then the Christian moralist speaks up, exploiting the moment to make his point not on the sinfulness of man in general or the gunman in particular, but of the political ideology of the separation of church and state. Now, I would personally LOVE for prayer to be accepted in school. I would love for the creation story to be at least an accepted alternative to the origins of man. But the removal of prayer from schools is not the issue at the heart of Friday’s headlines. That was simple opportunistic exploitation of a horrible tragedy.
What people long for in such tragedy in my experience is COMFORT. And our response according to Scripture in such moments should be COMFORT. This is not a moment for us as Christians to seize to make a point on morality or sinfulness or politics. This a moment when an entire nation is hurting, when people at least in that community are naturally turning toward churches with a pain beyond imagining. And God instructs us clearly to comfort.
Comfort: to give strength and hope; to ease the grief or trouble of.
Offer empathy and compassion. Hurt with those who are hurting, and comfort with the comfort that you have received. My comfort in this moment is that this world is not the last word on humanity. Things are better than they were 100 years ago. Humanity is more civilized than it was. We have a greater life expectancy. We have better human rights. We value image bearers of God more than we did years ago. Yet, we still long for God to make all things right, and He promises to do that very thing one day. That is my hope and comfort. Jesus ushered in something through His death, and we have tasted its firstfruits, but much more is promised.
Friday’s shootings remind us of the great lack that remains between God’s goodness and what we experience in life today. Yet much around Friday reminds us of things that He has already ushered in of His kingdom. For all the brutality of the one shooter, we saw multitudes of people fulfilling the Greatest Command. There was a lot of sacrificial love evidenced Friday.
I’m thankful for Hebrews 2:8.
“YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.
It reminds me clearly that while much transformational good has come after Christ’s death, we do not yet see the fullness of Jesus as King of kings. When Jesus comes again, all sickness, including mental illness, will be healed and there will be no need for guns. The sin within us and the sin outside of us will be fully eradicated, and we will live at peace—peace within ourselves, and peace with each other. That day of hope is our comfort. May our testimony to unbelieving friends center on such hope, love, and compassion. Then we will have hit the mark Jesus Himself set for us in these moments.
John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
*All definitions from The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.