Orlando and July 4th
Posted on June 15, 2016 | Posted by Pastor Dan Holt
I am writing this shortly after the terrorist attack in Orlando. It looks like an ISIS inspired terrorist attack by an angry young Muslim man. For whatever his reasons, he decided to kill and wound people in the LGBT community which has already suffered so much from hate crimes. I am sad and sick about it.
The greater aim of terrorist groups is to cause fear and hate among more and more people. Terrorists hope to leverage the initial act so that it will draw more and more people into the cycle of fear and violence that serves them well. Jesus tried to do the opposite through leveraging his life to bring more and more people into forgiveness and reconciliation.
On our 4th of July, we celebrate our independence and freedom as a nation. In 1776, the freedom and independence came at the price of a war with England who allowed for no say in our governance and imposed heavy taxes. The freedom we enjoy as a nation was so precious that they were willing to pay a terrible price. For most all of us, this helps us appreciate our freedom and want to use it for good. But freedom by its nature allows people to do what they want and sadly some have greatly misused it.
In Galatians 5, Paul wrote, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence…” The risk is still there for us as Christians to misuse our freedom in Christ. The good news is that God’s Spirit is at work so that we want to do what is good and loving. The pastor at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston where the man shot up the members of the bible study last year gave us an example of this. Instead of going on a planned trip to Washington to meet with top women leaders in our nation, she went to Orlando to comfort the people. As with her, God is inspiring us to use our freedom to do what is good and loving in a broken and messed up world.