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Here is a good post by Tony Cartledge over at the Biblical Recorder Editor's Journal blog that should make all of us stop and think about what messages we may be sending to those around us. It is perhaps the most thoughtful piece I have seen in response to the church burnings in Alabama. Here are a couple of highlights:

"So, why would someone go riding through the country, setting fire to churches? Typical arsonists generally stay around so they can watch the fire, which gives them a thrill. In this case, however, fires broke out about as quickly as the arsonists could drive from one church to another."

"Was that person (or persons) angry at God? At Christians? At church in general? At Baptist churches in particular?"

"The burnings were clearly unjustified and without excuse. Even so, it's worth taking the time to ponder what might have led someone to be so angry with Christians in general or Baptists in particular that they would resort to burning church buildings in order to express their rage."

"Are there ways in which we have acted unloving, or overly judgmental, or hypocritical? Have others seen us act in hurtful ways, but in the name of Christ?"

"The number of people who would burn a church is very small, but the number who harbor deep resentment toward the church is probably much larger than we know or want to admit. Should that be cause for pause among those who claim the name of Christ?"

Amen! These church burnings are a tragedy and thankfully Christians across the country are responding by sending money to help rebuild the churches. But instead of merely condemning those who committed these awful acts we should pray for them and others who harbor hate toward the church.

Additionally we should be more careful to make sure we do nothing that would drive people away in bitterness and anger. It is not the fault of the churches that were burned, but that does not mean that as Christians we are always sending the best messages to the world.

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