I don't know any other word. This past week in Chapel hill three young Muslim students were killed over a parking spot.
This was tragic for so many people and so many reasons.
Tragic for those students. They had so much promise and a full life ahead of them.
Tragic for their families. Their hearts will be broken and struggling to heal for years.
Tragic for our community. Fear, racism, and anger continue to divide us.
Tragic for our country. Politicians and the media will use this death to confuse issues, meet agendas, and make campaigns successful.
But you know who this was most tragic for?
Take a look at the following Bible passage:
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life...but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Do you see what God did? God loved these three so much that he came to earth to live perfectly for them when they couldn’t. He died innocently for them the death they deserved. He rose triumphantly for them to proclaim that heaven is theirs as his gift. He has been calling out for them to believe that his Son did this!
They were Muslims. Their faith didn't believe this.
And someone ripped them away from this world before they could.
That’s an eternal tragedy.
But there is more at stake than that.
Our world was already filled with enough hatred, misunderstanding, racism, and mistrust. This tragedy will only heighten all of that ugliness. It will segregate, dissect, and separate our society even farther. Conversations will be harder. Dialogue will be tougher. Sharing the message of Jesus will be all that much more difficult.
As God’s spokespeople – as Christians – we might be tempted to give up:
“It’s too dangerous out there.”
“No one will trust me.”
Our world is very dark right now. Bu do not hide in the darkness.
As God’s spokespeople – as Christians – we might be tempted to give in:
“I’m not responsible.”
“I’m being blamed?”
“Who cares then!”
Our world is very dark right now. But do not become a part of the darkness.
Jesus said this. I think it's as important now as it was when he spoke it:
“You are the light of the world…People do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:14-16)
As God's spokespeople --as Christians -- we might be tempted to give up or give in, but we must do neither. We must give out.
The Bible records another dark time.
It was evening. Jesus was in a lonely garden. A band of men came to arrest him. Torches, swords, and anger surrounded him. He was handcuffed, slapped and arrested.
Then it was night. He went to a dimly lit courtroom. Still dark. He was blindfolded. Even darker. He was punched. “Who hit you!?!” He was hated.
Then it was morning. It was bright for a moment. Then, he was whipped. Then scourged. The pain from his back beckoned for him to black out.
Then it was noon. He was nailed to a cross. The cross was jammed into the ground. The sky turned to darkness. Jesus’ eyelids grew heavy. The light was slipping.
Then it was afternoon. He shouted. He sighed. Then….he was silent.
The light was gone.
But three days later, the light returned. Jesus burst forth from the tomb. He had conquered the darkness of death. He had defeated the darkness of sin. He had destroyed the sad darkness of this gloomy earth.
He had a new message. A message centered in the light of forgiveness. A message surrounded in the love of God. A message promising the eternal light of God’s presence to all who believe!
Then he left.
But before he left he made this command and promise. “Go and make disciples of all nations…and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28)
The point? The light never left. The light is in you. The light is with you. Let HIM shine!
Be kinder than you’ve ever been.
Care more than you've ever cared.
Prayer more vigorously than you've ever prayed.
Tell others about the hope you have in Jesus more confidently, more lovingly, and more often than you ever have before.
Let your light shine brighter than ever!
*Over the past couple of months, we've seen some creative hash-tags used to draw attention to different struggles:
God doesn't have a Twitter account. But if he did, I think he’d have his own spin on this:
May this heart of God be our heart as well.
Join me in saying prayers for the families of all involved with this tragedy.
Join me in staying calm and patient in the midst of heated anger.
Join me in bringing love to every person we encounter in the Triangle.
Join me in shining brightly in the darkest of times.