Not long after the news broke, the questions rolled in to the church office: “Do we have a security detail?” “Do we have a concealed carry policy?” On and on they came. People wanted to know how we would respond—more specifically, what steps we would take to keep that from happening at our church. Questions like that aren’t bad or wrong, but it says something when they come first.
The tragedy in Sutherland Springs is a grievous picture of our cultural sickness. The sickness erupted on an unsuspecting body of believers in the height of worshipping Jesus. It is a tragedy of painful and gut-wrenching proportions. The only question weighing on my heart was “How can we help them?”
Our community’s response was to send people to the hospital to counsel the injured and others to the site to minister to first responders. We took breakfast tacos and the gospel. You see, orthodoxy means right belief and orthopraxy means right practice. Right belief without right practice is well-wishing and right practice without belief is a temporary bandage.
Contempt for Christianity is bubbling up in our culture and it will continue if we believe the Bible is true. This is inevitable; but it doesn’t change Who we worship or that we worship. Hardship will cull the fair-weather saints from the true worshippers. For the drive-through worshippers, the threat of hardship will dissuade them. But, for true followers who understand that the Church is the Body of Christ, it’s an opportunity to truly be a member of Jesus’ body.
We don’t go to church; we are the church! It is sad to see the consumer mindset of many Christians—shopping for a church that best meets their needs. They are completely devoid of the knowledge that they are an essential part of the local body of Jesus.
In small town Texas, this local body worshipped together and died together. They knew one another and they loved one another. They were an imperfect gathering of people, relying on Jesus’ grace and are now in His presence.
Every local body is an expression—or cell—of the greater body of Jesus. We are Sutherland Springs. A part of us died, but we press on. Every local body is essential to the greater body and every individual should be a part of a local body. When we relegate church to a list of conveniences, preferences, goods, and services we denigrate the beauty of Christ’s body.
When the disciple Stephen was murdered while worshipping, Scripture says Jesus was standing at the right hand of the Father. Most references refer to Jesus seated at the right hand, but it is curious to note that Stephen was preaching and being martyred and Jesus stood up as if to take notice. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but I wonder, while the saints in Sutherland Springs were worshipping and bullets sprayed the building murdering 26, if Jesus didn’t stand.
We are His body, manifesting His Kingdom. We are Sutherland Springs.