Our hearts have been broken watching the tragedy unfold in El Paso, Texas. I was traveling to the airport in El Paso returning from speaking to pastors in New Mexico when the news of this tragedy first broke.
I immediately began praying. Just like most of you. Praying for the victims and their families. Praying for that first responders and for all those who were forced to witness such a hideous act of violence. Praying also for our churches in El Paso as they minister and care for hurting individuals and an entire community in shock and pain. As followers of Jesus we mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. Already churches in El Paso have begun to respond and reflect the love of Jesus to a city shocked by an act brutal violence.
Unfortunately, hideously evil acts are not a rare occurrence. Our world is filled with evil that expresses itself in the taking of life and inflicting unimaginable pain and suffering.
As I reflected on this tragedy my mind was drawn once again to a story in the New Testament where Jesus Christ is at the Sea of Galilee and he met the man who has many demons -“… no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains…No one was strong enough to subdue him.” (Mark 5)
The best efforts of man to subdue evil in this world are of little real consequence. We SHOULD and MUST as a nation/community do all we can to subdue evil and protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.
But the only real answer to this kind of evil is the transforming power of the gospel. The church in North America has to be held accountable for our poor stewardship of the gospel. Church members quarrel and waste energy bickering over temporal issues such as music, ministry styles, and generational preferences, and we see the closure of over 4,000 churches each year right here in America. These churches close while evil grows and lives are shattered in every community across our land.
Among the 4,000 churches that close are hundreds and hundreds of Southern Baptist Churches surrounded by people who need the gospel. May God forgive us.
Jesus words are clear – “I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”.
But only a focused, engaged, truth-proclaiming Church that embraces the full power of the gospel will have any impact on the very gates of hell.
I pray that these kinds of events will be a wake-up call to all of us to redouble our efforts to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost and dying world. It is only the transforming power of the gospel that can and will defeat the evil that is all around us.