Feeling Las Vegas

Feeling Las Vegas

Monday I woke up like I usually do. I snoozed the alarm a couple of times, until Bri kicked me a bit and I got the day started. I woke Michaela up and got her morning routine started. When I returned to my bedroom I noticed that my phone was lighting up with news headlines and text messages. I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to see whatever it was. And I was right.

Another mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas. I prayed for the victims. I prayed for the rescue workers. I prayed for the doctors and nurses seeing to the wounded. And my heart asked God, Why? Why does this keep happening ? And then I remembered, God has already given us the answer in the Gospel of Mark 7:21-23:

“And he [Jesus] said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles.

For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come:

fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit,

licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly.

All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’”

We can blame the gun, we can blame the lax gun control, we can blame the age in which we live. But when you get right down to it, we are the ones to blame.  Elsewhere in the scriptures (Jeremiah 17:9) we are told that “The heart is deceitful above all else; it is perverse— who can understand it?” In other words, our own hearts LIE to us.

Yet we often encourage each other to “follow our hearts” as we seek fulfillment in life. Friends, that is a dangerous piece of advice, because our hearts can turn a righteous and justified idea into a weapon of violence. When we follow our hearts, unchained and unchecked, catastrophe is the likely end – like a protestor who is so firm in their protest that they begin to believe that violence is justified. The cause may be a righteous one, but when our hearts, and our passions, lead us to take lives, to do violence, we have gone far astray.

Part of the work of the Church is to be a kind of check-and-balance to the desires of our hearts. When we study, and worship, and pray together, when we share each others’ lives, we can measure our heart against another and be able to discern between a righteousness born of the Spirit of God in us and a position based solely on our hearts’ desires. Church is not just a place we go on Sunday. It is what we are called to be in the world: the check and balance to the evil desires of our hearts.

Trying hard to understand it,

Pastor Mike

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