I am deeply disturbed about the massacres earlier this month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. These are horrible!
Worse yet have been the reactions. Finger-pointing started before family members had even all been notified of their losses. What would have happened if there instead had been 30 days of nationwide mourning, putting political attacks on hold? Well, that would have been a sign of a country in healthy relationship with one another. It would have been a sign of one nation under God that realized the value of human worth versus scoring political points or raising money for a particular political party.
Families are often the same. As a pastor, I have seen a person die and immediately his or her family starts finger-pointing, fighting over funeral expenses, inheritances, even furniture and jewelry.
While we are sitting around pointing fingers and yelling on social media, people are dying. We have a dysfunctional nation, and I believe it is because we have dysfunctional families. At its root, we have people who are broken, who have forgotten or perhaps never learned how to live in right relationship with one another.
It is nothing new. In Genesis as early as Chapter 3, we see finger-pointing and blame within a marriage. By Chapter 4, we see envy and jealousy so bad that one brother murders another brother and then lies to God about it. By Chapter 16, we see a man having children with two different women and the start of the split between two different religions that continues to this day.
The common theme is broken family relationships.
Perhaps you can relate in your own family. It can certainly sidetrack the best of intentions. Jesus got called on to intervene in a family squabble while he was trying to preach. In Luke 12, while Jesus was preaching to thousands of people, someone who obviously had more on his mind than hearing the Word of God hollered out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me judge or an arbiter between you?” And Jesus went on to tell a story about what is really important: life in relationship versus accumulation of stuff.
As a nation, we celebrated something wonderful last month. It was 50 years ago in July that we celebrated the successful mission to the Moon. It was one of the greatest accomplishments of the century! An accomplishment that humans had been dreaming about for thousands of years. It happened because people worked together for a common goal: not something to make one political party or one race superior. Rather, something to make humanity pause and consider the enormity of the universe and our role in the momentary time we have in this life on Earth in partnership with a Creator who has been here forever.
Sadly, this month we marked something that happened 53 years ago in Austin, the Tower shootings at The University of Texas. A 25-year-old gunman climbed into the tower, opening fire at random, killing and wounding people indiscriminately before he himself was shot dead.
It’s been 53 years, and yet the mass murders continue. Sadly, the night before he climbed that tower, the gunman took the lives of his own wife and mother by stabbing them with knives.
There is a root cause. The problem is evil and sin in this world. What’s needed more than any new legislation or great speeches right now is for people—all people, including you and me—to look ourselves in the mirror and realize the value of living in right relationship. As a Christian, I believe that begins with a right relationship with Jesus Christ. When we look into the eyes of Jesus, we are changed.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Why do I do what I do each day as a minister in Terrell, Texas? I want to reach one more person for Jesus Christ. Not because I want my church to grow bigger but because I believe that one more person is loved, created in God’s image, and in desperate need of being in relationship with Jesus.
There’s a great Burt Bacharach/Hal David song that goes, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” I believe what people of the world need now more than ever is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Terrell needs Jesus. You and I need Jesus.
By faith, each one can reach one. I only wish someone had reached Charles Whitman 53 years ago in Austin. I only wish someone had reached Patrick Crusius in El Paso, Texas. I only wish someone had reached Connor Betts in Dayton, Ohio. Someone who could have introduced them to a God who always has loved them and sought to be in right relationship with them.
Relationships matter. I believe Jesus is calling each of us to work on them, starting with our relationship with him.