I imagine there will be more than a few pastors in our nation who will include a direct reference to the Colorado mass murder shooting in Aurora at a first showing of the new Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises during their sermons on Sunday.
And perhaps if a church leader giving a sermon this weekend isn't including more than a "let's pray for the victims," they should maybe reconsider at the last moment before their regularly scheduled message.
"The community has been terribly shaken by the tragic shooting in Aurora. Christians have been responding with prayer vigils and reaching out to hurting families with support and counseling," apologist, author, and pastor Lee Strobel told me Friday evening. "Our church swung open our chapel for prayer and scrapped plans for our Sunday services. I was supposed to speak on the topic of marriage, but we've postponed that so I can address the question on many minds: Why does God allow tragedy and suffering?"
"Obviously, the affected families don't need a theological treatise right now; they desperately need the very real presence of Jesus in their lives, and that's what our church and many others are helping them experience," he added. "But still, many folks want to know why there's so much violence in the world if God is good. It's a legitimate question. I'll be turning to God's Word for guidance on how we can process this issue."
I had the opportunity and blessing to interview Colorado native, author, and speaker David Jesse, who is a contributing writer for Third Option Men, about his column, The DARK Night Rises: Where is the LIGHT?
It was one of those interviews that I sometimes do where at some point during the phone conversation I realize that I am blessed and I think to myself, "Oh, my gosh! I am receiving my own personal sermon!"
Jesse told me that the terrifying shooting in Aurora is not the fault of Hollywood filmmakers or society or of "a world walking further and further away from the Truth."
"The shooting in Denver yesterday is the fault of the Church," he wrote and said again over the phone.
"It's our responsibility to stand up and make this world a better place and not sit around and condemn others when they act the way that they are going to act. The world is a dark place," he said.
Now blaming is a tricky thing. The moment you blame anyone you are looked at by others with a hypercritical view. Or as I remember Strobel saying in a sermon I heard years ago, once your neighbors know you are a Christian, they are staring out their living room window with their "hypercritical radar glasses on."
That being said, there is so much truth in what Jesse believes about how the Church normally reacts to the tragedies perpetrated by the killers among us.
What I loved most about our conversation was this quote:
"We need to tell the people of this world that the world is broken, that it is damaged and it doesn't work the way it is supposed to work. It's time for the Church to say we don't have it figured out, but we know the one who does and we are willing to point you in the direction of hope, of light, of life and not despair, and death, and darkness which is what the world is screaming out right now. We've got to show them that Jesus is life."
My prayer is this...
Lord, I may go and enjoy a movie with a controversial message and tell others and post my delight about this or that about the movie on Facebook and Twitter, but let me do so in a way that shows that my priortiy is in following you, not in the false glory of some cultural hysteria. Please help me understand what it means to live in this world but not of this world. I want to glorify you. Everything else comes second. Amen.
PS I pray the Church listens to God's will this time.