Several weeks ago, my husband bought movie tickets to attend the Batman movie marathon that showed in theaters on Thursday night. He, along with my three oldest kids, and a few friends, had looked forward to the marathon for weeks. We are huge movie fans, our family. I had to work early the following morning, so I opted out of the whole thing, and stayed home with our youngest kid.
I rose early the next morning, and when I got into my car to head to work, I turned on my radio and heard the horrific news. “One lone gunman has fired upon midnight moviegoers in Colorado, killing some and injuring many more.” The moviegoers had been at the same Batman movie marathon my family and friends had attended the night before here in Birmingham. No doubt, they had bought their tickets ahead of time and had anticipated a night of fun, only to have it turn into a night of horror.
I could talk to you about “original sin” and “total depravity of man”, but I’m afraid your eyes would glaze over and you’d stop reading. I’m not a seminary graduate, but I am married to one- so I know something of total depravity. (That’s a seminary joke.)
Still, we wonder what could cause a person to do something so terrible. We have a hard time picturing ourselves in that same position. Our brains cannot wrap around what could possibly lead someone to do such a thing.
The Bible teaches that with God we can do all things. (Matthew 19:26) Nothing is impossible with Christ.
But how about apart from Him? What is possible apart from Him? Apart from the love of Jesus, a man can walk into a crowded movie theater and proceed to kill and maim total strangers. Men, women and children alike.
I recently read an article online from USA Today that said nineteen percent of people are now checking the “none” box when asked about religious affiliation. That’s up from six percent in 1990. Both Catholics and Mainline Protestant denominations in America show either plateaued memberships or declines in membership. Once upon a time in America, ninety-nine percent of us claimed belief in a higher power. Today that percent is down to ninety.
What are we, as followers of Christ, supposed to do about the “Nones”? We are supposed to take seriously the Commission we were given in Scripture.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
Verse sixteen says some of the disciples doubted. Even after all they had seen and witnessed Jesus do in their lives and in the lives of others, they doubted what they were supposed to be about. So Jesus reminded them. It all depended upon them, you see. The plan was for the church to be the hope of world through the Holy Spirit. Jesus couldn’t stay and do it for them. For the scenario to play out like it was supposed to, He had to return to heaven and send the Holy Spirit to them. It was up to the disciples to go and tell the world about Jesus. They had to go to the Nones.
That Commission is no less ours today than it was for those disciples, even the doubting ones, of that day. We fill our days full of things that have only temporal results, leaving to the very end, if they find a place at all, those things eternal. We hurry through the grocery line hardly noticing the woman checking out our groceries and taking our money. We never stop to think about showing the love of Christ to her, but we are quick to criticize her sour attitude.
We pass by countless people every day and fail to see them through the eyes of Jesus. Those are the Nones. Some of them are, anyway. How do we know them? How do we find them? We start by taking our Commission seriously. We ask for an assignment. We pray to have the eyes of Jesus when we see them. We must be willing to love those hardest to love. We recognize that but for the grace of God, we would be a None, too.