Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
By Joe Hearne
*Photo credit: CNN.com
At 2am EST on June 12, a horrific event took place. A terrorist walked into Pulse, a gay bar & nightclub in Orlando, opened fire and killed 49 people and injured over 50 people. This came as a devastating shock to our nation and although it is being debated, this event has been labeled as the Worst Massacre in U.S. History (aside from the events of September 11, 2001). But what seemed to show a coming together of this nation to mourn for the victims of Orlando, quickly turned into political affiliated attacks within 24-48 hours. It was almost as if the violent attack had been something of the long forgotten past.
An ACLU Lawyer (and many others) began attacking “the Christian Right” with comments such as “The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this. No. #PulseNightClub” and “You know what is gross – your thoughts and prayers and Islamophobia after you created this anti-queer climate.” Along with these attacks, comments regarding the need for more gun laws came forth. It quickly became, yet, another platform for taking away the guns of Americans.
While one side began attacking the “Christian Right” and blaming them for the cold, calculated attack, the other side began throwing up comments throughout social media platforms in defense of banning followers of Islam from entering the country as well as pro-gun statements. Political leaders and candidates also took to their platforms in efforts to bring about their own attacks and conversations about laws and legislations.
While I am not writing to discuss which side of the proverbial fence we rest on, there is something important to take away from the reactionary responses that quickly began shifting the conversation away from the terrifying events of June 12; Our mourning is coming up void.
Our church plant core group regularly meets to have a meal together and time in the word. Recently, we have been walking through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In the beginning of this section, Jesus makes two statements, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” and “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5:3-4)
What is Jesus saying here? What is he telling us?
The Sermon on the Mount is a wonderful section of scripture that speaks to the life of a disciple of Jesus. It answers the question of what it looks like to be a part of the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, he is saying,“Blessed are those who realize their position before God”-“Blessed are those who realize their spiritual bankruptcy”. And quickly after, he says, “Blessed are those who mourn”. Here Jesus is essentially saying,”Blessed are those who mourn over their sin, the human condition, and the condition of the fallen world around them”. We are to continually realize our position before God and be in mourning over the fallen nature of humanity. We are to mourn over sin and remember the need for the restoration that Jesus brings and will continue to bring through the New Creation.
The nation is in a state of mourning. We are mourning the loss of human lives due to an act of terror and because the state of mourning has seemed to shift so quickly into political conversations, I fear that many have found the supposed compassion to be empty- it means nothing.
In the early days of the church, one thing that stood out to non-Christians was the respect that Christians had for the dead. There was a respectful treatment of the deceased regardless of the religious affiliation of the individual who died. The compassion of these early Christians, even towards the deceased, was just another way that the Gospel was able to be spread.
As Christians, we should mourn for those lives that were lost. We should mourn for those who were injured. We should show compassion because we have been shown the greatest compassion of all. We were once alienated and hostile in mind (Col. 1:21) and cut off from God, but Jesus Christ came and reconciled us to God.
In the midst of this fallen world, we are here to be imitators of Christ and show compassion. If the appearance of our compassion disappears, we are not showing the lowly and servant nature of our savior. Let us be a people who mourn for the victims of Orlando. Let us be a people of compassion.