Stand Strong in Dark Times

When I heard the news of the great tragedy in Orlando, “Again?” I thought. “Another mass shooting?” Really? This one is said to be the worst in American history! There are 50 dead and 53 wounded. It was an egregious act of evil.

To add to this mentally disturbing news, I had just left NYC with my wife, having spent much time at the 9/11 museum. My mind was already filled with images of horror: planes striking the twin towers, smoke pouring from the skyscrapers, people jumping out of the building to escape the inferno of flames, the world’s tallest building falling to the ground in a matter of seconds. My soul was already fatigued when I heard the news of Orlando.

Have no doubt about it, friends. A violent form of evil is escalating in our country. Mass shootings are becoming more common. Just a year ago, nine people died at a prayer meeting in Charleston, North Carolina. We all remember the murders at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

In times such as these, we must turn to God’s Word. We must look to God’s perfect law. His law is the law above all other laws. Much of our law and constitution builds on the foundation of God’s law.

The problem is always sin. Sin breaks God’s law. Sin is far less than God’s best for us and his plans and purposes. Everyone is guilty of sin by commission or omission. The Bible says we all have sinned. Every person on the planet breaks God’s law at one point on another on a daily basis. Thus we all have something in common. We sin and we need forgiveness for these sins. We need help to live in peace with God and others. God provides us with the help and forgiveness we need through his son Jesus Christ, which we obtain by God's grace through repenting and receiving the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins. He alone can forgive the sins of past, present, and future.

God not only forgives sins, but He also gives us righteousness. God looks upon the work of Christ on the cross as so wonderful, so glorious that His perfect sacrifice doesn’t simply cancel out your sins, it credits you with righteousness. So your spiritual state isn’t simply forgiven as all sins have been wiped away, but you have been filled up with God’s righteousness, power, and presence through the power of the Holy Spirit to help and guide you in Christian living.

So when we see evil and sin in the world, we come to common ground and say we are all in need of a savior, we all need God’s forgiveness and righteousness.

But how then must we live in midst of an increasingly dark time and evil age of violence?

We know that God’s laws are not only designed to give God, the High King of Heaven, more glory, honor, and respect but also to bring glory, honor, and respect to all people on upon the earth as well. As the Lord’s Prayer says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” So where is this High King of Heaven’s peace on earth? Where is this King’s justice?

That is a good question. God’s justice is coming. This peace on earth is not yet fully present. His Kingdom is not yet fully here, but it will be established at Christ’s second coming.

While we all catch glimpses of God’s Kingdom, His rule and reign, as we walk in obedience, we see His goodness on earth, the beauty of life, and all the riches of earth as a signpost of what is to come.

God is just getting started. We are awaiting His return. No one knows exactly when our High King of Heaven will return, to restore and redeem all things. But when He does, He will right every wrong. He will establish peace on earth everlasting.

But until that time, we must learn to live in such a way that brings glory and honor to Him, and by doing so we will bring glory and honor to earth.

To make sense of the evil atrocity in Orlando and to exhort our church to stand strong in dark times, I have made a list of twelve calls to action for Christian vigilance. Here they are in short. I will elaborate these points more thoroughly on Sunday.

• Labeling evil
• Letting Jesus judge
• Respecting humanity
• Making peace
• Being Biblically saturated
• Praying for the president
• Being faith-filled
• Monitoring media
• Building up the family
• Standing up and out
• Repenting of sins
• Finding hope and forgiveness

To Christ be the glory in the North Valley and beyond,

~ Ryan Rice