Sunday morning. Sutherland Springs, Texas. 26 people dead. Aged 5-72. One man with mental problems dead in a crashed SUV. Three days later, questions are answered. Other questions continue to linger. Why did he do this? Why at the church? How does his troubled military career play into all of this? Ironically, or perhaps, providentially, Sunday was a special day in the life of the church. Churches across the nation and around the celebrated the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This was a day where we learned about Christians in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa who face persecution for their faith daily. Many believers listen to the stories and appreciate the prayer time. And they feel thankful that it would never happen here.
Then it did. 1 Peter 4:14 says, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” Now, these 26 never thought of themselves that way. They were simply attending church. The same thing they may have done for decades. They didn’t fit the mold that we think of a persecuted believer or martyr. They weren’t put on trial. They didn’t make a famous, “Here I stand” statement. They simply showed up for church. Yes, it happened because of a troubled man who never should have had firearms in the first place. But what small action did the 26 take? They showed for church. And Peter says that they are blessed for their small act of obedience. Peter says that the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon them for their small act of obedience.
Coming out of this incident for believers, I believe have a few takeaways. First, be thankful for the safety and security we enjoy that those in persecuted areas of the world don’t. Second, remember that those who died for showing up for church died with the blessing of God upon them. Lastly, let us follow their example and their lead in obedience. The small act of obedience of encountering Christ and worshiping him this Sunday morning.