Thursday, December 24, 2015
In 1942-1944 names like Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Peleliu were unknown by most Americans. Before October 1, 2015, many had never heard of Roseburg, Oregon or Umpqua Community College. Before that day was over, the city and college were known world wide. Nine people were dead and seven injured. A lone gunman set foot on campus and later died by his own hand.
Twenty-six year old Chris Harper Mercer walked into a classroom and began shooting. Students dropped to the floor. He approached one prostrate student and asked, “Are you a Christian?” The individual replied “Yes.” He commanded the person to stand up and then informed the student, “Because you are a Christian, you’re going to see God in about one second.” Then he pulled the trigger and shot that believer in the head.
When that person decided to become a Christian, the usual pattern is to respond during an invitation song, going to the front of the church building. The preacher would asks why the person came. When learning the individual wishes to become a Christian, the minister usually asked, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God”? The respondent replies, “Yes,” or “Yes, I believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son.” Once that confession is made, baptism follows. For family and friends, that confession is welcomed and creates happy memories.
That first person, on October 1 was asked, “Are you a Christian?” Rather than happiness, I can only imagine the emotions owned by that student. A pistol was aimed at their head. A response was demanded. In that fleeting moment a decision had to be made. “Yes” or “No.” The teacher had already been murdered. The killer’s finger was on the trigger. Living was out of the question. Death was certain. Yet, the person answered “Yes.” A second later, eternity!
The second person was asked the same question. He was told to “get up.” There was no doubt what destiny awaited if he followed the same course as the first believer. Put yourself in his place! What would you say? Be honest with yourself. Is being shot in the head by saying “Yes” a solid guarantee of going to heaven? Does the blood of Christ take care of me even though I have not been perfect? Will God really save me just because I die confessing Christ? Will a quick, “Forgive me, Lord” be sufficient? Did the first person realize that death was imminent and have time to say those words? If not, was their “Yes” sufficient?
How secure are you in your faith? How much assurance do you have? How would you answer those questions? What if you were number one or two on the killer’s list? How much time would you need for your faith or assurance to “kick in”?
“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23).