Rev. Earl Carswell is pastor of Oasis Tabernacle Church in Selma, Alabama. Last Sunday morning, James Junior Minter joined the congregation for worship, sitting on the front row. According to police, Minter then pulled a handgun and opened fire.
Rev. Carswell and others acted swiftly, disarming him. Minter got away, but was captured quickly. The pastor was shot in the leg. Police are hailing him and others who defended their congregation as “heroes.” They are, indeed.
Violence against churches has become all too common in recent years. More congregations than ever before are hiring security guards and taking other measures to protect themselves. But we give less attention to protecting ourselves from spiritual attack. Here’s why we should.
Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). Therefore, they belong to the One who created them. As C. S. Lewis notes, “Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God.” My ability to compose this essay and even to type these words is God’s gift to me. The body by which I am working, the air I am breathing, the life I am living—it all comes from him. I am the tenant of this “temple”—he is the Owner.
The way I use the “house” I inhabit reflects on me and on my Lord. But Satan does not want me to recognize this two-fold reality. He knows that I know that sin reflects on the sinner. But he does not want me to remember that it also reflects on the Savior.
Consider a parable.
The first church Janet and I served as pastor owned a parsonage, a home on church property in which they wanted us to live. We owned a home at the time. So we chose to rent our house to tenants while living in the church’s parsonage.
If our tenants let weeds grow up around our house, or garbage pile up, or repairs go unmade, those in the community would rightly criticize them. But their criticism would not reflect on Janet and me, since they would not know that we were the owners.
However, if we did the same to the church’s parsonage, the community would criticize the church for letting its property fall into disrepair. Our mistreatment of the home we inhabited would reflect on its owner.
When Christians sin, society claims justification to reject the One we claim to serve. Conversely, when believers live their faith with holiness and grace, non-believers are drawn to our Lord.
So the next time temptation attacks you, remember your enemy’s ultimate strategy. Remember the Father who watched his Son die for you, the Savior on your cross, the eternal consequences of your present decision. Agree with the psalmist’s prayer: “Holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore” (Psalm 93:5).
And do whatever it takes to protect that house. You’ll be a hero, not just today but eternally.