Let’s just face the truth folks, our church building is situated in a fairly rural part of the county so we can be pretty sure of one thing: it is going to be the target of thieves and vandals on a fairly regular basis. In my short tenure at Bethany we’ve been robbed twice, and once right before I came. The culprits have done thousands of dollars of damage, have stolen thousands in property and have left many with a bad taste in their mouth. What can should we learn from this?
- We get angry, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as your anger isn’t misplaced. Remember what our belief is through our regular confession: nothing we have is ours, and our church building for sure. I have had things taken from me without my permission. And to be sure, I felt wronged, violated, taken advantage of. It is frustrating and angering. But that isn’t the anger I’m talking about. The anger we should feel is due to God’s holiness being offended. That is the righteous type of anger the Bible talks about. I know that many of you reading this, and many more who aren’t, sacrificed to be sure that we have a facility that reflects our love of God in which to worship and make disciples. It hurts to see that treated with contempt. But remember, if this is indeed God’s house, then we weren’t robbed, God was.
-We should be compassionate and merciful. People rob for the same reason we do many of the things that we do: sin. Sin may not cause you to steal from the store or rob a church, but it does make you do other things. The same principle that caused this man to rob our church, also causes us to gossip, slander, backstab, lust, and cheat. Scripture compels us to have mercy on those under the untamed influence of sin. I’m so thankful that when I was under sin’s unrelenting power, apart from the saving power of the Gospel, that two people had mercy and compassion on me. They didn’t see me as simply a sinner, but a sinner in need of a Savior. That is how God wants us to see the man who broke in and damaged our property, this time and every time.
-We should be a forgiving people. It’s very easy at times like these to become bitter towards a person. After all, isn’t it the pinnacle of depravity to break into a church? Actually, there are a number of other things more egregious that show the depth of man’s depravity, but this for many tops that list. Please remember, the same God who forgave us when we cried out for mercy, will forgive anyone who breaks into His house and steals His stuff. We need to show this man that in action, so he will understand it in theory. You may never meet him, you can and should still forgive him. Don’t let this incident, or any cause you to stumble in the area of forgiveness.
Yep, God allowed our church building to be broken in to and vandalized, to conform us into the image of His Son.
-Finally, we should learn joy. Let’s back up a few hours, shall we? Did God know the intention of this gentleman when he purposed in his heart to break in? He did, from eternity past. Did God have the ability to stop this action? Most certainly, He did. But He didn’t, did He? God allowed this to happen to this building to give us the opportunity to all the above things, which is an act of discipleship. Yep, God allowed our church building to be broken in to and vandalized, to conform us into the image of His Son.
How will you respond?