Thursday, June 5, 2014
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Not again. That was my gut reaction when I saw the headline about another shooting at Fort Hood a while back. I just couldn't believe it when they said that the previous shooting on the base was five years ago. It seemed like yesterday.
And that story got sadder and sadder as it unfolded, because it was a soldier killing soldiers on a base filled with men and women who have heroically had multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were survivors of war zones and enemy attacks and they were wounded and killed at home by one of their own, who may have carried invisible wounds of his own.
You know, sadly, the tragedy of shooting our own is more prevalent than the headlines will ever reflect. Actually I've seen it happen repeatedly.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Fort Hood Wakeup Call."
As followers of Jesus attack their brothers and sisters in Christ. Yeah, that's when I've seen it happening - shooting our own. Often using the new "weapons of mass destruction" as accelerants of what they're doing: social networks, blogs, e-mail, along with old-fashioned gossip and backstabbing.
We shoot at people because they remind us of people who hurt us, or because of their worship style, their legalism, their liberalism, for their beliefs. Not so much in the 90% where Christians agree, but often in the 10% where we differ. Somehow we feel free to ditch what the Bible says, "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15).
One faction accuses the other faction of being "judgmental." When, in fact, those factions differ only in who they judge. We conveniently bundle people who are different into easily dismissed, easily characterized categories. When, in fact, we are categories. We're individuals.
The result is the "us vs. them" vibe to a world that's supposed to - according to Jesus - know us by our love. He hasn't changed His mind about what He expects of those who carry His Name. He makes it very clear in our word for today from the Word of God in John 17:23. "May they be brought to complete unity so the world may know that You sent Me"
The trauma at Fort Hood is not without its lessons for those who are commanded by the Bible to be a "good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:3). Here's five that I can think of. First of all, we're all wounded warriors. Every one of us has our battle scars, including those who've hurt us. If I knew my brother's story, I'd be a lot less likely to attack him. We know how it hurts to be unfairly criticized. Right? We know what it's like to be accused or characterized. So why do we keep that cycle of hurt going?
Secondly, there's no healing in attacking others. In fact, it just insures that we'll continue to be defined by our pain. That's a lousy way to live. Scripture solemnly warns us to "see to it that no one misses the grace of God..." Wow! Going without His grace? That's a terrifying prospect. How does that happen? It goes on to say, "...and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15). God's grace and my bitterness cannot coexist in the same heart.
Thirdly, only our enemy benefits when we shoot at other believers. When Jesus-followers publicly discredit others, we're doing Satan's work for him. After all, the word "devil" literally means "slanderer."
I think a fourth lesson that comes out of that Fort Hood tragedy of a soldier shooting his own is our attacks on one another give lost people another reason to stay lost. Because they can't see Christ because they're blinded by His followers belittling and diminishing each other.
And, you know, last of all we anger God when we attack a child of His. I mean, the Bible describes the church as Jesus' bride. He's not going to stand for someone attacking His Bride. We break our Savior's heart. We turn lost people away from Him when we form our firing squad in a circle.
Our army cannot prevail when we use our bullets against each other.