cropped-cropped-img_2164.jpgWe were all shocked and saddened by the tragedy in Charleston this week. Lives taken needlessly; heartlessly. What a cruel demonstration of misplaced and unchecked emotion. What complete disregard for the sanctity of human life.

But today, that is not my point.

And we probably shouldn’t be shocked. Here is a young man who grew up in a world crowded full of movies where people pull out guns to get their way. To make their point. Or just to create excitement. He’s probably played thousands of hours of videos games where shooting is just a function of the thumb to get to the end goal.   All the fiction figures that die are laughable collateral damage that don’t matter. We live in a culture of extremely violent entertainment that gives little regard for the aftermath.

But that is also not my point.

After the initial arrest, this young man seemed to be almost enjoying his new found notoriety. He did something “important” by his own estimation. What sickness. What callousness. It makes me want to vomit. It also makes me want to figure out a way to keep him from the limelight since he seems to be a believer of the adage that no publicity is bad publicity.

But that is also not my point.

Perhaps we have farther to go with race relations in America than we realized.

But that is also not my point.

Here is my point:

I envy those nine faithful Christians.

They lost their lives in a mid-week church service. They had taken time out of their Wednesday to pray and study the Bible with other believers. Sure, they didn’t know they were risking their lives at the time, but they did have other things to do. They had lunches to pack. Classes to miss. Homework to finish. Kids to spend time with.

Even absent other responsibilities and demands on their time, I’m sure some of them were tired from a day of work. Some of them were tempted to catch the next episode of a TV show. One lady was 87; no one expects an 87-year old to get out and go to church on a Wednesday night.

That night, as they carried out their simple act of worship, they had a visitor. They welcomed him. They accepted him. Even though he was not “one of them,” they received him into their church and treated him as part of their group.

For these nine people, their last act on earth was simple; but it was an act of faithfulness. Faithful devotion to their Savior that brought them there that night; and a faithful witness that kept them there and caused them to reach out to a visitor.

While I cannot see their hearts, I strongly suspect that there are nine people in heaven that Jesus welcomed this week with open arms. Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful in the little things.

And that’s the part that I envy. I wish was me. I hope is me.

I hope that when my Savior calls me, He finds me faithful. Maybe doing simple things. Maybe worshiping in a little group. Maybe serving in a quiet way. Maybe eating a potluck dinner. But faithful.

Our church also had a prayer service that night. But I was out of town, so I wasn’t there.

Needless to say, I felt convicted by the lives of these nine. They motivated me to make and keep church a priority. Because if a gunman ever comes for me, I hope he finds me in church, not at home watching TV or scrolling Facebook.

We can all take some comfort in knowing that this young man failed utterly with his mission. He did not start a war; he brought a city to its knees. He did not cause us to hate; he spurred us to show love. He did not make us fear; he made us want to be faithful.

Therein lies what I hope that there is another unexpected consequence of his actions: that it drives us to church. Even if we’re never called to greatness or notoriety, we’ve been called to faithfulness. Let’s show it by showing up in God’s house. Let’s gather for prayer and worship. Let’s eat a lot of casseroles together. Let’s greet a lot of visitors.

If an 87-year old can get out on a Wednesday night, so can we. Coach…Librarian…whatever your story, let your life be made up of prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, and reaching out to strangers.

And when we die—because we all will—may Jesus say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant” because we were faithful unto the end.

Go to church.  That is my point.

One thought on “Faithful to the End

  1. I love your point. I was raised to be in church every time the doors were open. As a preacher’s kid, that was a lot! Now as an adult, I do find myself chafing about how often we are compelled to attend, with all the demands on our time. I envy them as well. No matter how much I chafe to get to a service, I rarely am sorry I made the “effort.” The blessing of nourishment is always worth it. Faithful for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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