Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those murdered and injured in the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. We were all reminded of the similar shooting in Columbine. We rejoice in the outpouring of love and compassion to the families affected by this wicked act. We, like so many others, cannot conceive of wickedness so deep and so vicious as to enable a human to murder so indiscriminately and so callously. We marvel at the heroism and demonstrations of love as we hear the stories of men who shielded wives, girlfriends, and children, being shot themselves, but protecting ones they loved. We were amazed at the professionalism and genuine humanity in the compassionate response of the many police officers who entered an unknown situation, perhaps putting their own lives in danger, to help those they could, who held dying victims in their arms, and who took the injured to hospitals, knowing that the EMTs would be overwhelmed at the site.
Some have expressed disappointment that this same outpouring of grief is not expressed for the many more soldiers who are still dying in the mid-East. But those men and women go to work every day with the full realization that today might be their last day on earth. Police officers understand that same reality, so we applaud those who quickly entered that theater that night, not knowing what might happen to them. (We also applaud them for apprehending the “suspect” so quickly.) But a teenager, or family, or child who goes to a movie does not plan to put his or her life on the line. At least they have not in the past. Even that will change, at least for a while.
The film, as we know, was “The Dark Knight Rising,” the last in a Batman trilogy. The darkness of the murders and attempted murders is a reflection of the rising darkness in America. God has been removed from our public schools. People are trying to remove God from government. They are trying to push God out of the marketplace. A commentator recently noted that our President frequently speaks of the freedom of worship but never about religious liberty. Our society is content to have people go to church and worship whatever, whoever, and however they want – behind closed doors. But our society does not want our religion brought into politics, or education, or the public arenas of life.
When we read the book of Acts, however, that is exactly where Christianity lived. Certainly Acts talks about the church, but in the book of Acts, one function of the church, evangelization, did not take place during the church services. Church was for Christians; it was a place to worship, fellowship, and grow. Evangelization took place in the marketplace. The gospel was proclaimed in the Jew’s temple, in the streets of cities, in the middle of the gods of Athens, in prisons, by the sides of rivers. The early Christians took the gospel to the people where they were. They did not simply invite the lost to church; they invited the lost to Christ and then took new believers to church.
The church in America has pretty much given up marketplace evangelism. How many of our church people actually evangelize at work, in their neighborhood, in the parks, or at the stores where they shop? Why does Christianity make so little impact on our culture? I am a dispensationalist and I understand that the future of humanity, eschatologically, is bleak. But I also believe that God can send another great revival, as He has done in the past. I am not pessimistic about the church. I am optimistic. And I’m not optimistic just because Scripture declares that in the end, God’s will is done. I am optimistic because as the dark night rises, as America becomes more and more pagan, the light of genuine Christianity will shine all the brighter. I see great opportunity for the churches and believers who will boldly go into the rising darkness and declare the truth that God is love and God is light!