There was another church shooting this past Sunday in Illinois. The pastor, Fred Winters, was giving a message when someone approached him. Pastor Winters said good morning to the man and asked how he could help him. The man pulled out a gun and shot at him. The first shot hit his Bible and then he attempted to run off the stage. The shooter followed him and shot 3 more times. The second bullet went right through his heart and he died moments later.
There are a couple of things that I was challenged by as I followed this story.
The love that this church is showing to the shooter and his family is proper. While there are probably feelings of hurt and anger, this church has been extending nothing but love and support for the shooter’s family. You have to hear the interview of the guy that was active in taking down the shooter before more people were hurt. In moments like this, I am thrilled to be a part of the church. This is when it acting like it is supposed to be. The associate pastor of this church has been spending time at the shooter’s family’s home ministering to them. We can learn much from loving the lost through the times when they hurt us the most. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when He said to love and bless those who persecute you. I believe Pastor Winters is enjoying the fruits of his labor of training people to live the way Jesus said to live.
I hurt for the family and church. They have lost an amazing husband, father, and leader. I know that God’s grace will be sufficient for them especially during this time. My mind almost immediately went to the reality that that could be me. What a way to go – proclaiming truth from the Bible in hopes of changing lives forever. I cannot think of a better way to enter eternity. One moment telling people about that reality and the next experiencing it for yourself.
I also am reminded of how fragile life really is. We need to seize the moments that we are given. How would I speak if I knew it were my last time? Who would I invite to be there? The reality is that we do not know so we need to treat it like it could be this time.
It is so amazing to be a part of God’s family. To hurt with the hurting body during this difficult time and to rejoice in how they are reacting is truly remarkable. I love the church! I love when it operates like it is supposed to.