Greg Laurie: Why Did God Allow This To Happen?
1:30 pm PST
They call it “The Mandalay Massacre.”
A 64-year-old man armed with more then 10 rifles shot and killed 58 people in what is being called the largest mass shooting U.S. history. Hundreds more were wounded.
The question that comes to mind at a time like this is. . . Why?
A Barna Poll asked, “If you could ask God one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
If you are sharing the gospel, it won’t be long before someone asks, “How could a God of love allow tragedy, pain, and suffering?” C.S. Lewis said that the “problem of pain is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.” More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other. It is not merely a problem; it is the problem.
So, why does God allow tragedy? If God can prevent such terrible tragedies, why does He allow them to take place? Here’s the classic statement of the problem: Either God is all powerful but not all good, and therefore He doesn’t stop evil—or He’s all good but not all powerful, and therefore He can’t stop evil… READ FULL COMMENTARY
9:55 am PST
Las Vegas Police Department confirmed at least 58 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured in a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival. The shooter, named by police as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, is dead. It has been ruled as the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Developing news Monday morning that 50 people died and more than 400 were injured when a 64-year-old gunman with an arsenal of at least 10 rifles fired down on the crowd at a Las Vegas country music festival on Sunday set off a firestorm of reactions on Twitter.
7:30 am PST
Perhaps the tweet from the West LA chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes summed up the reaction of many in the Christian faith community most succinctly:
Lord, we need you NOW. #pray #onourknees #LasVegasShooting #Jesus
— FCA West LA (@FCAWestLA) October 2, 2017
Preliminary police reports point to the mass shooting as the deadliest in U.S. history, eclipsing last year’s massacre of 49 people at an Orlando nightclub by a gunman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State militants, as Reuters reports.
THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED THROUGHOUT THE DAY. TIME STAMPS REFLECT TIME OF PUBLICATION ON THIS SITE
8:10 am PST
Pastor and Evangelist Greg Laurie
This is horrific!
Heart broken over those killed.
Praying for their families and the wounded. Help us, Lord! https://t.co/wHIBwM8FYJ
— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) October 2, 2017
“Lord, we pray for comfort for those who have lost loved ones. We pray for the many 1st responders as well. Help and touch the wounded.”
— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) October 2, 2017
8:25 am PST
Aaron McManus, son of Erwin McManus
Praying for everyone in Las Vegas. My heart is broken. I cannot imagine the pain and hurt that is happening.
— Aaron McManus (@aaronmcmanus) October 2, 2017
8:47 am PST
From the Editor
This morning, I received a letter as part of an email blast from Carey Nieuwhof, who writes in his bio summary: I’m a husband, a dad to two sons and a daughter-in-law, and the founding and teaching pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto Canada.
Here’s his letter followed by an excerpt from his post that includes “a few things that have been circulating through my heart and mind as tragedy after tragedy keeps happening.
What a devastating night last night in Las Vegas. Just when you think your heart can’t break anymore and things can’t get worse, they do.
I imagine as a leader you’re wondering how to respond. I am.
You can pray. You can give. You can serve. And you and I will.
But Alex I just want you to know that the work you’re doing day in and day out in the church (as staff or as a volunteer) is perhaps more important than it’s ever been.
When all that’s left is hate, the Gospel moves us to love. That’s why the local church is so important.
This morning I updated a post outlining my thoughts on how to be the church in an age of terror and tragedy.
I hope it will encourage you and maybe help you and the people you serve as we (once again) work through the problems we face in our culture. I know we’re sharing these thoughts with our church today.
Bottom line, Alex, your work in sharing the love of Christ with others is the most important thing happening on the planet today.
I just want you to know you’re part of the solution. I want to be too.
Appreciate you so much and I hope this can help in some small way.
1. What The Church Is Doing Is More Important, Not Less Important
Doubtless the church is in an era of deep change.
Given the rise of terror and violence in the West, the days of playing church or simply going to church are drawing to a close.
This is the time to be the church, because what Christians have to offer is a radically different ethic and alternative to hatred and violence. The Gospel is a needed ethic in our culture, and it’s being lost in the noise.
You can debate parts of the scripture all you want, but one thing that is undeniable is that Jesus said his followers would be known by their love.
This, more than anything, is what Christians need to be known for.
Families need this love. Victims need this love. Perpetrators need this love. Children need this love.
The Gospel moves us to love when all that is left is hate.
So what you’re doing this Sunday, not just in response to what happened but in advance of what might happen next, is so important.
Our culture needs the love found in Jesus more than ever. What you’re doing next weekend matters more than you realize.
As the Gospel spreads from person to person, life to life, community to community, nation to nation, we are transformed.
Preach the love of Christ like you were changing the world. Because you are.
2. Confession And Humility Are More Important Than Ever
Confession and humility are increasingly rare in the West. And in the church. And yet they are two characteristics of Christianity that run to the core of our faith.
The opposite of confession is blame…and that’s an instinctive reaction most of us have. Lack of humility pushes people (and nations) into stand-offs that deepen the divide and escalate the ruin.
The truth is, other religions aren’t the only religions that have spoken hate. Christians have spoken hate as well. We need to repent.
We are perfectly capable of hating and killing each other without intervention from foreign groups that hate the West. And sometimes, we do.
We need to pray, and repent, and carry deep inside of us the knowledge that we too are broken. We too need a Saviour, grace and forgiveness.
That posture can’t change everything, but it will change more than you think. It can deeply alter the dynamic and dialogue at a micro-level. When the micro-dialogue and the micro-dynamics changes, it is only a matter of time until the macro changes.
3. Faith Is A Dividing Line That Ultimately Can Become A Uniting Line
The reality, of course, is that if you’re a Christian, there’s no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ There is only an ‘us’ and ‘us.’
The early church realized that when Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women and every ethnic nation imaginable came together under Christ. It was tremendously radical then. It will be just as radical now.
We live in an age where faith is increasingly seen as divisive and extreme. More and more people feel that way about Christianity as well, as David Kinnaman and I discuss in Episode 82 of my leadership podcast (you can listen here).
Yet Christianity, which man sees as divisive, is ultimately unifying because it ultimately unites radically different people groups under the love of God that is in Jesus Christ.
4. The Only Ethic That Will Ever Work Is The Ethic Of Love
A generation ago, Martin Luther King Jr. faced a situation that had some parallels. The civil rights movement was hardly yet a movement as the young black preacher began his ministry. The controversy over busing had just begun in Alabama.
One night when King was preaching, someone threw a bomb inside the house where he wife and infant daughter were inside. His family was unharmed, but his front window had been blown out and there was a huge hole in his porch.
As he rushed home, a crowd of several hundred blacks had gathered as had the mayor and the police.
As Charles Duhigg tells the story (in his book, The Power of Habit), someone shoved a cop, a bottle flew through the air and a police officer waved his baton. All the ingredients for a full riot were there. The tension had been building for weeks. Well, actually, for centuries.
King stood up on his porch and told the crowd “Don’t do anything panicky….He who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Then, as he got everyone’s attention, King spoke these words:
“We must love our white brothers, no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out in word that echo across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.’…We must meet hate with love.”
As Duhigg notes, this was a turning point for the civil rights movement. People put down their fists and their weapons. When hate became instead, an embrace, it became a very difficult force to stop.
The only ethic that will ultimately work against hate is love. And no one should be more loving than those forgiven in Christ.
It would be wise to study King and the civil rights movement again in detail to see not just results, but strategy. The strategy of love appears to lose at first, but ultimately wins.
5. Christians Lay Down Their Lives In The Face Of Evil
Should Christians take life? There is little point on this blog to getting into long debate about gun control or state violence.
I would assume that only a few of us who read this are actual legislators, and that none of us who read this have ever sat in the Oval Office or at 24 Sussex Drive to receive a briefing as the leader of a nation. We cannot understand the complexities of leadership or government from the seats in which we sit. Or at least I can’t.
But I do have to figure out my personal response. So do you. So does anyone who identifies themselves as Christians.
Here’s what I know.
That when Jesus himself was hated enough to be unjustly tortured and killed, he willingly gave his life. He didn’t fight back. He didn’t even enter a defense at his trial.
In fact, he did something more profound than defending himself, he forgave his torturers.
Actually, it went deeper than that. The very act his captors used to kill Jesus is the act Jesus would later use to extend to them forgiveness and salvation.
Meeting Jesus, this crucified Saviour, would later lead Saul to move from killing Christians out of hatred to planting churches across the known world.
Ultimately, Paul gave his life for the sake of the Gospel.
The ultimate Christian response to hatred is not to take someone’s life for hating you, it’s to lay down your life for their sake.
You can kill the body. But you cannot kill love. You cannot kill forgiveness. You cannot kill grace.
It is to those things we must cling in these days.
6. External Regulations Cannot Trump Internal Values
Can you legislate away terror? Not really.
I’m all in favor of better laws, smarter laws, and doing all we can to make sure evil does not win.
But laws alone cannot defeat evil. Laws, in fact, can barely contain it.
Ultimately the problems we are facing are not issues of law, they are issues of the heart.
Changed laws do not change hearts.
What changes hearts? The Gospel. Love. Christ.
When a heart is transformed, its value system is transformed. Forgiveness dissolves anger. Love dissolves hate.
As a result, a person’s value system changes. This is where the hope is. This is where the key to the future lies.
Why? Because internally-owned values trump externally-imposed rules every time.
In a community where love has won, laws are barely needed. In a community where hate lives, laws do almost no good.
Paul knew this.
So how does that love gain a foothold in a culture threatened with hate?
The way people will discover that love is when they meet a Christian who behaves like an actual Christian.
And that means that this begins with you and with me.
You may have never met a terrorist. You may not have even know many Muslims.
But the truth is there are people you don’t like, and probably a few that you hate. Start there.
Forgive someone you actually know.
And then when it comes to adding your voice to the public dialogue on social media or in private conversations, don’t fuel hate to people groups and other religions…instead, extend love.
The most radical thing you can do today is to extend love in the face of hate.
It will require all you have. In fact, you will not be able to do it. You may actually need a Saviour to help.
Which is exactly the point.The most radical thing you can do today is to extend love in the face of hate.
8:47 am PST
Jay Sekulow, Author, Chief Counsel ACLJ
— Jay Sekulow (@JaySekulow) October 2, 2017