In the wake of what happened on Sunday, words will never be enough. As a Pastor and Leader, I dream of ways for the local church to be involved in the world in ways to make Jesus famous, or if you don’t like that vernacular, ways showing the world how amazing God already is.
Even in the few days since this senseless, disgusting, disturbing, horrible tragedy – I have already seen the conversation shift into debate.
What is to blame – guns or terrorism?
Look, I’m not saying this isn’t a conversation we should have in culture. However, it needs to turn into a conversation not a debate. What I’ve learned over time, is that neither side is all wrong or all right. What can the two sides learn from each other if they actually stop to listen?
Importantly, as a Christian, this is not a conversation I care to get caught up in. Heck, I don’t even want to get caught up in the conversation about the local Chick-Fil-A who generously opened their doors on Sunday, cooked some chicken, and gave it out to those in line to give blood for the victims of this tragedy and how they aren’t getting enough credit for their actions. (Which, by the way, I think this is something everyone can say was a good, cool thing.)
As a Pastor and Leader, I want to steer any conversation towards Jesus – especially with those inside the church. Have you stopped to think about what these families or the LGBTQ community is feeling in the wake of this? What if they were one of your brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, or co-workers?
Let me give you a suggestion. Try putting on your elementary school thinking cap your childhood teachers used to make you pantomime putting on. Now, clear your head and practice placing yourself in the shoes of those different than you – the more different the better.
How would you feel if this event took place in a local church in your city? How would you feel if this event took place in your local church?
Now we are talking; now we can begin to understand; now we have empathy.
Sarah Carter, wrote the quote in the picture at the top of the post. She is the wife of one of my mentors and former pastors. I love the quote, because what I get from that quote, is the importance of practicing empathy as a Christian.
Honestly, we need to have empathy for a particular community in the wake of this tragedy. But as a church, as a Christian, I think we should be known for our empathy. If you take the time to closely read the Gospels, you notice that wherever Jesus goes, He is the most empathetic person in the room.
Let me be honest. Empathy is hard. Partly because empathy means stepping out of your comfort zone and learning to ditch your platitudes.
This is an obvious situation where the church community must show empathy. However, there are countless moments in our daily life, in our communities, in our work places, in our schools, in our cities, in our car pools, in our youth sports leagues, where we get to practice empathy.
Christians, when tragedy globally or locally strikes, don’t jump to debate. Jump to empathy.
Take a page out of Discovery Church in Florida:
Seriously. Do you remember the Rob Lowe Direct TV commercials? Who do you want to be? What do you want to be known for? The choice is yours.
Who do you want to be like? Don’t be like “Meat Head Rob Lowe”. Have some empathy. Learn to walk with people different than you.
Listen before you speak.