I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of waking up to that text, nor would I even want to try. I’m a native Californian… grew up close to Oakland. In fact, when people ask me where in Northern California I’m from, I always say the Oakland side of the San Francisco Bay Area. I suppose that’s part of the reason I have such a fascination with this event. Also, the ages of the victims hits hard… 17 to 35… so young. My son fits in that range. Again… I can’t even imagine.
I have spoken with friends who can’t understand why anyone was living there. They’ve seen the pictures of the clutter, the maze of furniture and walls and just stuff. I look at it and, honestly, I can understand the appeal. I see a place I would have thought was very cool when I was in my early 20’s. I understand the desire to be independent. Most of these young adults probably could have been at home, but had a desperate desire to be on their own. They were building a community, an extended family of artists, musicians, friends… a place where they could be “safe”.
I’m not going to talk about who is to blame. You could, quite honestly, point fingers in many directions and be correct.
More than the horror of losing loved ones (so young, so much life ahead of them, endless possibilities…) I’m hit even harder thinking about eternal questions.
Last weekend, my pastor spoke about judgment. We aren’t a hell fire and brimstone kind of church. But the very thought of perishing in fire… Tennessee, Oakland… can also bring up thoughts about eternal fire.I believe there is a God. I believe he has an enemy. I believe in heaven and hell. Click To Tweet
I am a Christian. I believe there is a God. I believe he has an enemy. I believe there is a heaven, and I believe there will be an eternal hell. Scripture clearly states that hell was not created for man, but rather for satan. The problem is, this is a classic case of follow the leader. The leader you have chosen, defines your eternal destination. Will you go to heaven or will you go to hell?
My heart aches to know that the fate of 36 people was sealed Friday night. Good or bad. The time to choose is over. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not making a judgment call. For all I know, all 36 people who died may have been saved.
What about the people within your circle of influence? Where are they headed?
We Christians frequently get blasted for passing judgment on others, or trying to convert others, with the end result being: most Christians no longer witness.
We are all familiar with the saying “It’s better to live a sermon than to preach one any day“. Yes, it’s important that we walk our talk. But the talk is also important.
In the great commission, Jesus told his followers to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Most of us seem to think all that’s required is to go to church every week. We’ve become nothing more than pew warmers. In fact, many don’t even think that matters anymore, and believe they can worship God anywhere, anytime. Yes, you can. But we are also told not to forsake gathering together — especially as the end time nears.
My challenge to you today, in light of these recent tragedies of lives cut short… How are the people in your sphere of influence? Your family members? Your friends? Your coworkers?Are you being the light and the salt of the world? Or are you afraid to speak? Click To Tweet
Are you being the light and the salt of the world? Are you a city on a hill shining brightly and bringing others to Christ? Or are you afraid to speak? The story of the adulteress comes to mind. The spiritual leaders drug her into the street before Jesus and asked him to pass judgment on her, reminding him that the law clearly stated that she should be stoned. His simple reply “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her” is frequently used against Christians.
As Paul Harvey would say, and now here’s the rest of the story.
Jesus asked her where her condemners were. They had all left. He said “neither do I condemn you“. But the story doesn’t end here. He tells her to “go and sin no more“. You see, Jesus DID judge, or evaluate her spiritual condition based on her actions, or fruits. He didn’t ignore the sin. He also didn’t hate the sinner. He loved her enough to tell her to stop what she was doing.Jesus loved her enough to say 'go and sin no more'. Click To Tweet
Do you love others enough to do the same?
We can’t save the world. Free choice means that everyone gets to decide their own fate. But if they are making a decision without all of the information, what is the chance that they will make the right one?Sin looks desirable! But there are consequences to sin... enormous, horrifying, destiny altering… Click To Tweet
Let’s face it, sin looks desirable! It always has. The tree in the garden was pleasing and the fruit looked good to eat. But there are consequences to sin… enormous, horrifying, destiny altering consequences.
If you received that text message, would you know where your loved one was going?
Hard questions. Important questions.
I love you,