Passion Week & Easter Sunday -- Known for it’s beautiful agony of a crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The mysterious paradox of love and pain continues to express itself today in the terrorist attack at the church gathering.
As a church in the U.S., what should our response toward the bombing at a Christian Easter gathering? What is a response rooted in the grace and gospel of Jesus Christ?
Here are four considerations.
Mourning – Romans 12.15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” We mourn with those encounters one of the greatest and darkest human experiences – the loss of a loved one. We do not glance over it….we do not treat it lightly...but we acknowledge what occurred and mourn with those learning the new meaning of “His grace is sufficient” (2 Cor 12.9).
Reminding – We take this sobering reminder to recognize that many brothers and sisters of the faith face daily dangers of persecution and martyrdom. It is plausible that Early Church believers faced death during their Easter celebrations just as it occurred today. Today was not an exception to the history of persecution that Christians have experienced since the original disciples of Christ. This weekend’s Christian martyrs in Pakistan join the ranks of many who’ve gone before them, receiving the crown of life in heaven (Rev 2.10).
Pray for the hurting – Pray for the families who lost a loved one today. Early reports show that mostly women and children died, and hundreds of people are wounded. These are real people with real families – fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We lift up our fellow believers as they heal, persevere, forgive, and continue declaring the majesty of Christ. If the Apostle Paul asked for prayer (1 Thess 5.25), we know our global church family needs prayer, too.
Pray for the persecutors – Jesus said “Pray for your enemies” (Matthew 5.44). That’s easy to read; more difficult to do. Yet Jesus’ words stand as a counter-cultural distinctive of our faith. This weekend’s bombing reminds me of the story of Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries who died at the hands of the Auca tribe of Ecuador. Through prayer, ministry, and forgiveness, the Ecuadorians who committed the murders eventually believed in Jesus. Those missionaries’ deaths were not in vain; neither are today’s martyrs’ deaths in vain. We must pray for an awakening of those who are far from God.
Remember, the hope that lies within every Christ follower. Romans 6:5 says, “For if we have ben united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”