I'm currently involved in a small group study of Beth Moore's "Jesus the One and Only". Today I'm working hard to catch up before our meeting tomorrow (sh! don't tell them! :-)) but I had to stop after 'Day 2' and share some thoughts that God just won't let me breeze on by. Beth uses Luke 9:51-56 to highlight the disciples' (and consequently, OUR) judgmental attitudes and desires to bring destruction on those who are different. She ties in verses from Ezekiel 33:10-11, Jonah 4:1-3, 10-11, Lamentations 3:22, and Matthew 7:1-2 - I'll let you play Bible Drill with those, but the bottom line is simply this - there is nothing more tragic than the death of those who do not know Christ. And no matter what they have done or how horrible they have been, God does not take pleasure in their death because it means that they have not and will not have the eternal life that Christ died to give them.
The Bible is full of stories of those who came bearing what they considered 'good news' involving the death of an enemy - but it is never good news! God "is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) As Christians, we are admonished by Christ himself to "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)
This week we learned of a senseless attack on innocent Christians in Pakistan who work through World Vision to help children orphaned and injured in the earthquake that occurred there in 2005. I confess, my first thoughts were certainly not for those who committed this inexcusable act of violence. I thought of the children whose needs may not be met now, of the families who have lost a loved one too soon, and of the hindrance such violence is to the spread of the gospel. But God has reminded me through this lesson today, that the greatest tragedy is not a Christian dying too young - but an unbeliever dying at any age by any means. Our lives on earth are nothing more than a vapor - but eternity awaits us.
Have you ever wondered what would inspire someone to strap a bomb to themselves and take their own life as they attempt to take the lives of others? There is only one 'god' which seeks the death of those who disagree with him - and it is NOT the God of the Bible. It is NOT the God who said, "Father, forgive them," of those who had tortured and nailed him to the cross even as he drew his last breath.
Those who perpetrate such violence - even in the name of the God of the Bible - are sadly misled by the father of lies. Still, God does not seek their destruction, but their reconciliation to Him through His Son.
Lord, fill my heart with compassion not only for the victims of these attacks, but for the perpetrators who do not know You. Help your people to show love and compassion that is so overwhelming to unbelievers that they cannot resist you.