As my wife and I were shopping at Walmart, I noticed the diversity in the people around me. People with many shades of melanin. People from all around the world. People with heritages different from my own. As I observed them, my heart sank thinking of the tragedy at the Walmart in El Paso, Texas, just two days before. Another community retail center with people from many parts of the world. A store full of people, shopping and enjoying their day, terrorized by hate.
It is simple to blame an act of terror that claimed more than 20 lives in Texas on political ideologies, video game violence, firearm availability, healthcare access or even the hatred inside the heart of the murderous terrorist that carried out this atrocity. The answer, spiritually speaking, runs much deeper.
These things happen because hell hates heaven. Hell hates that when I look around me and see people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9), I think about heaven. My heart rejoices knowing that God loves and redeems people from every skin tone and language group – hell shudders at the prospect.
I find great comfort knowing that no matter what hell unleashes on us – no matter what wickedness brings ugly terror – heaven will look a lot like Walmart. No bigotry or hate or racism can change heaven. Hell cannot prevail. Hell cannot overcome. The gospel of Christ will transform the hearts of people from every tribe and language and people and nation. People from every race will comprise the Kingdom of Christ. Hate can rage and hell can war, but they do so in desperation, not in victory.
When Christ’s Kingdom is complete, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This is the day I long for. This is the day I thought about as I strolled through Walmart.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Micheal Pardue is first vice president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and pastor of First Baptist Icard in Connelly Springs.)