As Christians who understand that our citizenship is in God's kingdom, there is tension in the awareness that our heavenly kingdom has not yet been fully realized (Rom 8:18). There are few instances where this is made as painfully and abundantly clear as in times of national tragedy. The recent mass shootings in our nation have served as a vivid reminder that all is not right in our world. And when a shooting takes place in a church - not all that different from ours - it hits especially close to home. The scenes coming out of Sutherland Springs, TX this week have been heartbreaking and uniquely personal. Beyond our shared national citizenship as Americans, our common Kingdom citizenship makes these murdered men, women and children our brothers and sisters.
While statistically speaking, the chances of a tragedy such as this taking place at our church are very low, at times like these it is helpful and good to examine the ways we are seeking to be diligent in ensuring the safety of those who call our church home. Here are some of the ways we prioritize safety at Outward:
While we take the security of those who worship with us on Sundays very seriously, we also acknowledge the great truth that a Christian's confidence and ultimate hope is never dependent upon physical safety. As Russell Moore stated earlier this week, "The Christian gospel does not cower before death." In fact, our very hope lies in the One who willingly gave up His life.
Because our citizenship is in heaven - as those who have been delivered from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col 1:13) - followers of Jesus will always be singing saints, joyful heralds, hopeful missionaries. Even in the face of great tragedy, we will never be a people marked by defeat or shaken by fear. Yes, we mourn. But ultimately, we defy those who would seek to inject terror or doubt into our families and gatherings by steadfastly walking in repentance and faith in the God who will "restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish" us (1 Pet 5:10). No matter what, He alone is our greatest joy, our precious hope, and our glorious prize!
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.Hebrews 12:28
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Love Jesus. Live Outward.
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