In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016, an armed man entered an LGBT nightclub celebrating Latinx Night in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire. 49 lives were lost in what became the worst shooting in American history.
Responses across America varied greatly. Some voices called for political measures to be taken. Many individuals organized vigils in memory of the victims. A great number of citizens remained silent in their shock.
It’s been 36 days since the shooting. Not even one day for each life lost, and yet our country has largely moved on. Terrorist attacks in Iraq and France, political news across the States and new racially-charged deaths in the south have replaced the victims of Orlando in Facebook conversations and Twitter debates.
With so much violence heaped upon violence, hate built on hate, how is anyone capable of grieving and remembering every life lost? How is one Christian overwhelmed by the bloodshed to respond?
As we grieve the massive loss of God’s created image-bearers across the world this summer, Choros is clinging to the hope and love of God’s promises and seeking ways to carry out his mandates.
We grieve the loss of lives created and loved by our Lord, his “fearfully and wonderfully made” beings created in his image.
But we must not stop there. As Christians, we must speak up and do our part to ensure the violence does not continue, does not press on unhindered. Like Christ, whom we are called to emulate, we must reach out to the outcasts and defend those who hurt, provide for those in need.
One reason the early Christian church succeeded despite heavy persecution in its first few centuries was its inclusion and acceptance of the outcasts. In those days, women, children and certain ethnic groups were rejected or ignored by mainstream Roman society. The church offered a place for these groups considered “less than” by the Romans to find equality and belonging. Marriage and family life found a support system; widows and orphans found food and shelter; women and children found value as individuals, defined by their own identities rather than their relationships to men. Today’s church needs to live up to our history and embrace those whom our world rejects.
No matter what sexuality, gender, political movement or religious ideology this summer’s victims identified with, they were all beloved creations of our Lord. We Christians must remember their loss and let it propel us into action to protect those our world has failed.
“‘I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’” – Matthew 25:42-45 (ESV)