Updated on June 20, 2016
Where’s the love? Thoughts in the aftermath of the tragedy in Orlando
It’s been over a week since that horrific, middle of the night shooting of over 100 people in Orlando. The reports of 49 dead and over 50 injured were shocking. The fact that one man carried out this awful, hateful thing leaves me speechless. I have hardly been able to wrap my head around it. I found myself hanging out on the fringes of the discussion for awhile, soaking in all the words.
The words. All the words. Christians, Muslims, LGBT people, straight people, married people, politicians, pastors. All the words. All the hate. All the hurt. All the trying to figure it out, the trying to make sense, the accusations and pointing fingers.
As if any of us could ever understand the level of hatred and disregard for human life that provoked the attack. As if having an answer would somehow make the dead come back to life.
I’m making up stories in my head about gay daughters and sons who are now dead. Parents who rejected them because they “chose” a lifestyle that they disagreed with. I’m thinking about choices we make in relationships to control behaviors by withholding love. And now there is no time to go back and make it right, to love them and embrace them as they are, not as we wish them to be.
I’m saddened by the fact that every time I hear about this atrocity, I hear the words “Gay Night Club” as if that somehow adds reason to the senseless act of violence. I’m sad because 49 people died, not 49 gay people.
In the aftermath of it all, I’m saddened by the hurtful and hateful words that come from those who profess to be followers of Christ.
This is God’s judgment they say.
This is what they deserve they say.
All Muslims are terrorists they say.
They want to restrict our freedom they say.
What does Jesus say?
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12
How has Jesus loved you? And how do you know he loves you? Has someone in your life shown you unconditional love? I think that’s where it starts.
Has Jesus pointed his finger at you, shaking it in your face, telling you that you don’t deserve to be loved because your life isn’t exactly they way he imagined it would be? Maybe someone did, but that wasn’t Jesus.
Did he shake his head and walk away when you screwed up over and over and over again? Heaping shame upon shame on you? Maybe someone did, but that wasn’t Jesus.
No, he said “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3). If you’re fortunate enough to have someone love you with an everlasting, unconditional love, you have a glimpse of the love Jesus has for you. If not, then please hear me when I say to you,
Jesus loves you just the way you are! He does. He will always. He always has.
He loved you then. He loves you now. He is less concerned about your conformity to man-made rules, and more concerned about your heart seeking after him and loving others the way he does.
So Christians, those of us who profess to follow Christ, who are called to love like Jesus does, why are we spewing all the hate? Have we forgotten,
The fruit of the Spirit is… LOVE. Galatians 5:22
How do we know an apple tree is an apple tree? How do we know a blackberry bush is a blackberry bush? Because apple trees produce apples and blackberry bushes produce blackberries.
How do others know that I am a Christian? They know it, because of my love for others which is the very fruit that we are supposed to bear. If my life bears fruit of hatred and rejection, am following Christ?
Every human being wants to love and be loved. The love Jesus has for us is higher and deeper and wider than anything we can possibly imagine (Ephesians 3). He is not stingy with it and neither should we be.
That terrible night, 49 people died and 50+ were injured. Parents, grandparents, children, siblings, and friends lost loved ones. I shudder to think that even one may have died thinking that they were unworthy of God’s love because they were gay.
Let’s do better. Let’s love like Jesus loves.