Friday, October 02, 2015

Live to Die

Authorities carry a shooting victim away from the scene after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. on Oct. 1. Image and caption credit

The 26-year-old gunman, Chris Harper-Mercer, barged into a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon with guns blazing. He shot the professor point blank. Everyone in the classroom dropped to the floor. 
The gunman, while reloading his handgun, ordered the students to stand up if they were Christians… And they would stand up and he said, “Good, because youre a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second” …And then he shot and killed them. [1]
The gunman, Chris Harper-Mercer.
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He shot in the head those who stood up. He shot in the legs those who said no or did not speak up. As of last count, 10 people were killed. Seven others were injured. The police killed the shooter, who “had body armor with him and was heavily armed, with a large amount of ammunition—enough for a prolonged gunfight.” [2]

Though authorities are still establishing why the gunman apparently targeted Christians, “Gunman Chris Harper-Mercer’s disdain for religion was evident in online profile, as the madman became a member of a ‘doesn’t like organized religion’ group on an Internet dating site.” [3]

Upon reading about this senseless killing, I asked myself, “If we were in that situation, would we still say we are Christians even after seeing people killed for admitting they were?” I remember the words of the Lord
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:23-26, ESV)
Talking about this sad incident, I told my sons, “I believe that God will give us the dying grace when faced with that situation.” We heard stories after stories of martyrs  who faced death with courage. I believe God’s grace sustained them to stare at it eye to eye. But I also told them, “You would only be ready to die for Christ in your final day if you live for Him day by day.”

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Dying for Christ was never accidental. It was intentional. And it was not a spur of the moment decision when we are looking at the barrel of a gun pointed toward us. It was a decision forged in the decisions we make as we seek to obey the Lord daily. We will only come to that point where we are willing to lose our life for His sake when, day in and day out, we deny ourselves and take up our cross, that is, live a life of obedience to Him. 

Simply put, we will only be willing to die for the Lord if we live for Him.

[1] Dana Ford and Ed Payne (2 October 2015), “Oregon shooting: Gunman dead after college rampage,” CNN, retrieved from

[2] Ibid.

[3] Chris Perez, Danika Fears and Natalie Musumeci (1 October 2015), “Oregon gunman singled out Christians during rampage,” New York Post, retrieved from