Monday, November 9, 2009

How Do We Pray for a Crazed Killer?

This morning I received an email from a member of our church. It contained both as confession and a question that many are probably asking today, although most would not venture to voice it publicly. Though emails do not have inflection, I caught a hint of despair and confusion which I knew warranted immediate attention, so I prayerfully wrote out a response. The confession, the question and even the emotion of the email are most likely things many Christians are struggling with today. I asked my parishioner for permission to share the email and my response with you. I hope the few minutes it takes for you read this blog entry will be worth your time and help in your own personal struggle concerning this issue. Your responses are welcomed.

The email read:

Bro. Mitch,

I have a question.
How do you pray for this monster that murdered all these people on the military base, the fact that he is even still alive?
Is it wrong to wish he would have died or were dead? What a horrible thing for me to even say. God already knows what I am thinking, so I can not pretend the thought did not enter my brain.

Signed by Parishioner

My response (expanded somewhat from the original);

Your question is one all Christians deal with from time to time, even if we’re unwilling to admit it. For you to be honest with God is the first step. Like the man who came to Jesus with a son suffering from demon possession, we need to say to God, “I believe, but help my unbelief.”

Our goal is to see people through the eyes of Jesus and to love people as He loves them. U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan is really no different than any one of the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross. They had bought into the lies of the Roman government and church leaders but Jesus looked at them and said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Muslim extremists have bought into the lies of Eastern culture and the Muslim faith. They too are lost and are in need of the Savior. Actually, the Roman soldiers and this crazed killer are just like each of us once were. The Bible asserts, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." The Message Bible paraphrases Paul's reminder to the church in this way: "It wasn't so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. [2] You let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. [3] We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us." (Ephes. 2:1-3 )

You see, Satan is alive and well. He has a grip on the lives of Muslim extremists, but we must also remember that most of the "good old boys" we share life with on a daily basis are just as lost as they are. God sees all people, including Major Hasan with the same eyes and loves them with the same heart He sees and loves you with. As God's children we must remember that there is always hope in Jesus Christ. Don't forget that Paul's reminder to the church didn't end in verse three. It continued, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, [5] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." (Ephes. 2:4-5)

We can only pray that the senseless violence will stop and that all people, including Muslims like Major Hasan, will realize that the man on the cross gave His life for them. One of the thieves crucified next to Christ realized who Jesus was, confessed Him as Lord, and even in the waning moments of his life, his sins were forgiven. Until that final breath is taken, there is hope. There is hope for Major Hasan and his hope is only in Christ Jesus. Pray that someone will have the opportunity and boldnessto share the gospel with him and that he too will be saved. And, when you don't want to pray for his salvation because he "doesn't deserve it" remember, neither did you!

Now, there is one other thing of great importance to remember. The thief crucified next to Jesus, though forgiven, still had to pay his debt to society. Salvation does not relieve us from the consequences of our sin and Major Hasan will pay society for the heinous acts which he committed, whether or not he repents of his sin.

We are to pray for Major Hasan who committed this deadly act, understanding that Christ died for him just like He did for us. We can also rightly pray that the laws of our land will be upheld and that he will swiftly pay his debt to society. We need to pray for the surviving victims and the families of all of the dead and injured. Pray that many who have ignored Christ, or put off making a decision to accept Him, will see this as a wake-up call, realizing that life is short and the day of salvation is now. Pray for the Christians of Killeen and surrounding towns as they minister in the name of Jesus Christ and pray for yourself, that God will grant you peace that is beyond understanding, even in times like these.

I hope this blog entry has helped you and my prayer for you is the same as that prayed by the Apostle Paul for the church in Ephesis found in Ephes. 1:18 : "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you..."