5 Sobering Lessons for Those Who Follow Jesus
That was my gut reaction when I saw the headline about another shooting at Fort Hood. I couldn't believe it when they said the previous shooting on the base was five years ago. Seems like yesterday.
The story's getting sadder and sadder as it unfolds. 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.
Survivors of war zones and enemy attacks. Wounded and killed at home. By one of their own. Who may have carried invisible wounds of his own.
Sadly, the tragedy of shooting our own is more prevalent than the headlines will ever reflect. I've seen it happen repeatedly.
As followers of Jesus attack their brothers and sisters in Christ. Often using the new "weapons of mass destruction" as accelerants. Social networks. Blogs. E-mail. Along with old-fashioned gossip and backstabbing.
We shoot at people because they remind us of those 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 the 10% where we differ. Somehow we feel free to ditch "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're individuals.
The result is an "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: "May they be brought to complete unity so the world may know that You sent Me" (John 17:23 ).
The trauma at Fort Hood today is not without its lessons for those commanded to be "good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:3 ). Five, I can think of.
1. 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, accused, or characterized. So why do we then keep that cycle of hurt going?
2. There's no healing in attacking others.
In fact, it just insures that we'll continue to be defined by our pain. A lousy way to live. Scripture solemnly warns us to "see to it that no one misses the grace of God..." Going without His grace? A terrifying prospect. How does that happen? "...And that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15 ). God's grace and my bitterness cannot coexist.
3. Only our enemy benefits when we shoot at other believers.
When Jesus-followers publicly discredit others, we do Satan's work for him. After all, "devil" literally means "slanderer."
4. Our attacks on one another give lost people another reason to stay lost.
They can't see Christ because they're blinded by His followers belittling and diminishing each other.
5. We anger God when we attack a child of His.
The Bible describes the Church as Jesus' bride. He will not stand for someone attacking His Bride.
We break our Savior's heart and 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.