Orlando Meets Luke chapter 13

You could imagine the crowd, eager to hear what Jesus had to say.  “Teacher, teacher – did you hear the news?”  They proceeded to tell him about the latest massacre, the most recent news of tragedy and death.  And Christ’s response?  

“Do you think that those fifty or sixty in Orlando were worse sinners because they suffered this way?  Or when that bridge in Minneapolis collapsed – do you think they were more guilty than the others living in Minnesota?”

Granted.  Jesus spoke about the tower at Siloam, and the Galileans whom Pilate killed; you can find his words in Luke 13.  But Christ’s response makes it quite clear: “I tell you, they were not worse sinners . . . but unless you repent, you also will perish.”  

Dear Christian, do you believe that?  Do you believe that “they were not worse sinners,” that every sin is equally damnable?  Do you deny Christ’s words that the latest & most macabre of headlines should prompt repentance?  Or have you been too quick to become obsessed with the latest flavor of political pandering, rather than recognizing your own final fate…as fear is peddled for political gain?   

Worst of all, dear Christian: Have you subconsciously assumed that the deceased were deserving of their fate, while we are not??

Let us Christians not miss the lesson of Orlando.  Whether your church body embraces homosexuality or Biblically asserts its sinfulness – the headlines are not for pointing fingers, nor for waving as a rallying flag.  

The headlines call for repentance.  

Jesus points the finger straight at our own sinful hearts.  His words convict us of sin – sinful rebellion against all that God has said in his Word, rebellion against the clear words and holy law of the Bible.  We hear Jesus' voice at a more deafening pitch when he says in another place: "Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.  These are what defile a person,” (Matthew 15:19).

Christ’s strong words cut through each sinful subterfuge that our hearts suggest.  We cannot dismiss his words, as though God now condones what he previously condemned; likewise, Bible-believing Christians find no basis for anything but compassion toward fellow sinners.  

There is no bigotry or bullying in telling the truth – unless we speak that truth without love.  Let us avoid the sarcastic rhetoric of the religious right, which is usually neither religious nor right.  Rather, we look for every opportunity to share the full counsel of God whenever and with whomever we can.  

God’s Word addresses the human heart.  It’s my own heart, and yours.  The sinful human heart is the prompting cause for a madman murdering 50 in a nightclub, 50 souls for whom Jesus Christ bled and died; and tragedy of tragedies, not merely that they died…but that they possibly died without saving faith in Christ Jesus, crossing from this life into eternal death in hell.  

As one friend put it: Please recognize that we don’t have to agree with another person's beliefs, perspectives, causes, choices, or actions in order to love, respect, and value another person's life.  Love and respect means being honest and patiently representing our own values, even if those values contradict another person’s beliefs.  Christian love and respect prompts us to protect and defend every life, even if others consider that life less valuable (due to age, ability, race, sexual orientation, or anything else.)  Likewise, Christian love demands that we speak about God’s declaration of sin – and God’s solution for sin in Jesus Christ.      

The Bible tells us that we cannot legislate hatred out of the heart, any more than we can legislate morality into the heart.  The inclination of the heart remains only evil, all the time.  God’s Word alone is able to address the human heart with the call to repentance.  Scripture proclaims a message of unbending truth and incomprehensible grace: Jesus Christ, died and risen to cleanse our hearts and unlock heaven.

You don’t need to wonder what Jesus would say or do with this Orlando headline.  His voice, spoken to Christian and unbeliever alike, is as clear today as it was in Luke 13: Repent!