Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matt 5:4)
This week has seen mourning on both sides of the Atlantic following the senseless murder of 49 night club goers in Orlando, Florida and the tragic murder of MP Jo Cox in Yorkshire. Both tragedies saddened me deeply, but the thought that Jo Cox’s children will never see their Mum again was truly heart breaking.
Both of these tragedies were brought about by hatred and intolerance. Those in Orlando were targeted because of their lifestyle. Whilst we recognise that a homosexual lifestyle is not in line with biblical teaching, these people were still someone’s sons and daughters and dearly loved by God. We must remember that God loves us even in our pride, rebellion and sin. John 3:16-17 says:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of love, grace and salvation, not condemnation. We condemn ourselves when we refuse to submit to God and give our lives to Him. God loves us unconditionally and longs to be in relationship with us.
MP Jo Cox was killed because of her work for the oppressed and downtrodden. Her tireless work to help refugees from war torn Syria and other places that have brought oppression and tyranny. She fought for those less fortunate, for those in danger to have a chance of a better life. This was motivated by a sense of justice and love for the poor.
The bible teaches in Matthew 25 that we should invite in the stranger to feed and clothe them. The Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 tells us that we should provide for those in danger and care for their physical needs, even if they are not “our sort of people”.
Leviticus 19:34 also says “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”
Surely we must understand that God loves the asylum seeker. God loves the immigrant. God loves those who risk everything to cross the Mediterranean and get into Europe. He calls us to love and provide for them. We must not forget that Joseph and Mary were asylum seekers when they fled to Egypt with the baby Jesus to escape from tyranny and the threat of death.
This week please do two things:
Firstly, please pray for the families of those who have lost people in these senseless murders, even if you cannot relate to the lifestyle choices of those who were victims. Pray for the families of the victims of Orlando, pray also for Jo Cox’s family as they come to terms with their tragic loss.
Secondly, as you vote in the EU referendum, remember that God has called us to love and provide for those in need and in danger, not close our borders and walk by on the other side. There are many arguments for and against EU membership, just take time to think and pray through your decision in the context of “What would Jesus do?”.