And now Orlando.
My wife and I were just finishing our Reformation tour by spending a few days in Prague when media reports circled the globe about the massacre in Orlando. We were here, in part, to honor the memory of John Hus, a preacher who was burned at the stake for preaching the gospel. I shall say more about him in a moment.
Most importantly, our thoughts and prayers are for the families of the victims. Long after the news reports are over, they will be left with their loss, their grief, their sorrow and unanswered questions.
In the wake of this tragedy, there are lessons to be learned. First, of course, is the uncertainty of life. The revelers who were mercilessly gunned down fully intended to return to their homes, sleep, and live for another day. As James says, life is “a mist” (James 4:14). We are here one moment and gone the next. Whether by gun violence, a car accident, or a heart attack, eternity may await any one of us with our very next breath.
Second, everything the Bible says about the human heart has again been confirmed. In this case, the evil was inflamed by a cruel religion that is continually scheming to impose its beliefs on the rest of the world. However, any human heart, unless restrained by circumstances and God’s grace, is capable of gross evil.
It is not only Islam that has been cruel; sadly, there have also been deceived Christians who considered it their responsibility to kill those who didn’t agree with their gospel-denying traditions. No one religion has a monopoly on evil.
Here in Prague, we have visited the memorial to John Hus, who, 100 years before Martin Luther, preached against indulgences and insisted on salvation by faith alone. For this he was killed, not by a deranged gunman, but rather burned at the stake by “Christian” officials in the Catholic church who regarded his biblical views as heresy.
While awaiting his fate, he wrote a prayer to friends in Prague: “O most holy Christ, draw me, weak as I am, after Thyself, for if Thou dost not draw us we cannot follow Thee. … Give me a fearless heart, a right faith, a firm hope, a perfect love, that for Thy sake I may lay down my life with patience and joy.”
The bishops committed his soul to the devil, but he replied, “I commit it to the most merciful Lord Jesus Christ.” Hus reminds us that even when we are given over into the hands of the devil, the believer is still in the hands of God. As the fire swirled around him, he was heard praying for his enemies.
John Hus taught us all how to die. He followed in the footsteps of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was cruelly and unjustly murdered. We as His followers should be prepared to suffer a similar fate, for we must remember that we are not greater than our Master.
The tragedy in Orlando reminds us that time is short and eternity is long. Let us use every day for the glory of God and the prize that awaits the faithful. Meanwhile, we have a message of hope, love, and forgiveness to share with our very hurting and confused world.