There’s a lot of bad news. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Earthquakes. The worst mass shooting in US history. How often do you remind yourself that there would be no need for the good news of Jesus Christ if there were no bad news?
Media, politicians, and talking heads of all sorts laud one thing and decry another. How do you keep the players straight? Which version do you believe?
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. – 1 John 4:1-3
When you heard about the mass shooting in Las Vegas this past weekend, what was your first thought?
“No. Not again.”
“Is anything safe?”
“What’s happening? This is insane.”
Insanity isn’t the precise cause of what we experience today. Delusion comes closer. But before we enter the darker side of the issue, let’s bask in the light of goodness. Kindness. Love.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. – John 15:13
Las Vegas Good Samaritans
Escaping the carnage, a young woman and members of her family stopped to pick up the maimed and injured. Fifteen people shared their rental that night, including ten complete strangers.
Firefighter Robert Hayes got his family safely out of the venue then returned to help. He personally pronounced 20 people dead and stayed as long as there was a need.
“It’s just something we do.”
Newlywed Sonny Melton lost his life shielding his bride, Heather. She lost her husband. What greater love?
Las Vegas survivor Mike McGarry covered his children when the shots rang out. Grown children. But it didn’t matter. Foot prints of people who ran over him and his children remain on his shirt as evidence of the danger.
“They’re 20, I’m 53. I lived a good life,” he said.
The point of the story of the Good Samaritan is that he was a stranger to the injured man on the side of the road. A Levite priest, someone who should have helped, purposefully veered to the other side of the road instead. One man’s goodwill proved him a true neighbor. (Luke 10:25-37)
What spirit pushed the priest away from the injured man and what spirit pulled the foreigner toward him?
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
We’ve been privileged to witness heroism and Samaritans in Las Vegas, Texas, Florida, and Mexico in the aftermath of tragedy. Neighbors don’t avoid the need, they run toward it, even to help a stranger.
The Spirit of a Neighbor
What spirit causes generosity, love for a stranger, or selfless acts of bravery? What spirit inspires sacrifice for a stranger? What spirit creates love for someone unknown?
What is the spirit of a true neighbor?
So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10:36-37
It’s true, neighborliness is declining in western culture, as is generosity of spirit and love for one another. That’s the bad news.
Test the Spirits
What spirit causes people to murder others? Whether one victim or fifty, it is a spirit of darkness. That same spirit causes people to denounce victims because of their religion, political affiliations, or musical preference.
- What spirit seeks to divide? A spirit of darkness.
- What spirit labels others to dehumanize them? A spirit of darkness.
- What spirit curls it’s lips, encouraging aggressive protest against dissenting opinions? A spirit of darkness.
- What spirit seeks to rescue, encourage, provide for strangers? A Spirit of Light.
- What spirit generates intercessory prayer? A Spirit of Light.
- What spirit encourages the best in men and women rather than the worst? A Spirit of Light.
Delusion is the primary strategy of the Enemy. Insisting that evil is good and tolerance is intolerant. When you read articles, listen to speeches and sermons, scan social media, or listen to the local evening news – test the spirit.
Do the words and conclusions come from a place of darkness or Light? There is no common ground between them.
Test the spirits. Is it the spirit of the Levite who proudly wears his robes and status but has no love, or the spirit of the Good Samaritan who proved his love by his action. Does the spirit encourage unity or division? Neighborliness or condemnation?
There is a lot of bad news. That won’t change. Jesus said there will be tribulation in the world, but to fear not, for “I have overcome the world.”
Good News Wins
There is more good news than bad if you look for it with the right spirit. You may have to dig through headlines and blog posts to find it, but it’s there.
It’s in your church.
It’s in your community center.
It’s in WalMart.
It’s in the heart of youth assisting an elder.
It’s in Vegas. Texas. Florida. Mexico.
Volunteers bring the spirit of Light everywhere they serve without recognition. Thousands, maybe millions every day. Volunteers lined up for blocks in Las Vegas to donate blood. Sometimes a little is all you can do. But one trickle of little added to others eventually creates a flood.
There is good news. Notice it. Applaud it. Be grateful for it.
“Is anything safe?”
Yes. Your eternity is safe in Jesus Christ.
Test the spirits. Not every person animated by the spirit of Light confesses Jesus Christ today. But the ember of Light burning in them proves there is hope.
The Good Samaritan showed mercy.
Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”