(© 19 June 2015, Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)
People are groping for answers to the senseless murders in South Carolina this past Wednesday night. A lone white man with apparent premeditation murdered nine black people as they were worshipping and studying the Bible. The Christian lady leading the Bible study was the wife of one of our REC pastors, Myra Thompson, wife of The Rev. Anthony Thompson. Please pray for the family and for the families of the other eight who were murdered.
It appears to be race motivated murders, just plain senseless. It reminds me of an original Star Trek TV show where two men were locked in mortal combat, hating one another for irrational reasons. Each man was black and white; one had black on the left side with white on the right, and the other man was just the reverse of that. It was so shallow to hate one another over such a trivial matter; especially since neither one had a choice over his colors. It was obviously a satire on the Civil Rights movement.
Now here we are again. One lone man who hates those of a different color has wreaked havoc for what is senseless murder simply because he hates. Should we despair? I’ll not give pious platitudes about “being strong,” which usually means not grieving. The death of loved ones hurts so we grieve, but not as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). Grief is part of the healing process. Even the Lord grieved at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35).
Fox News was doing interviews of pastors around the country to make sense of what appears to be nonsense. I shall make several observations. First, to us it does not make sense; but to Him who somehow makes all things work together for good, we rest in His wisdom (Romans 8:28).
Second, the loved one is home with the Lord: “absent from the body, present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Third, and most important, when Paul says “we do not grieve as those who have no hope,” the context is the bodily resurrection of Christians. The world, of course, really has no hope. Once a loved one dies, that is the end, or so they think. They grieve that they will never see the person again, and in their case, it may be true. They have no hope beyond the grave. Have you noticed in today’s movies that when someone dies that is the presumed end. There is no hope of reunion. Death has won.
But with the Christian, St. Paul proclaims that that is not the case:
13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18
Even in death, Christians win! AMEN. Ὡ