The Tragedy Among Us

Many of us have felt distraught as details emerged of Matthew Winkler’s death in Selmer, Tennessee, and his wife’s confession. Members of the Winkler family are known to many, and their ministries have blessed, and will continue to bless, multitudes.
At the risk of offending friends and family members who are still in a state of shock, and for whom this article may be premature, I would like to think in terms of what positive lessons may be drawn from this moment.
First, we belong to a family united by the love of God. Jesus showed us, by the compassionate treatment given to a sinner in the church (Matthew 18:15-17), how the Lord loves each one. Ours are not throw-away friendships, not a slip-in, slip-out communion. We are bound by the Spirit as children of God. The pain of one is everyone’s pain.
Second, the truth always withstands scrutiny. We all acknowledge that only Jesus was perfect; that we are saved by the mercies of God; that sin makes inroads in the church; that the flesh is weak, but God’s grace is sufficient for all. Brazilians speak of the naked, cruel truth, as if it must constantly be dressed, packaged, and toned down, but Christians need not fear the worst.
Some political pundits and religious figures may attempt to wring mileage from this tragedy for their positions. Such jockeying should not surprise us. But let us not fear the truth, for mankind’s worst merely highlights the divine best. So it is that the truth makes us free (John 8:32).
Third, sin insinuates itself into the life of many a saint. For every Peter there is also a Judas. Or perhaps we should say, for every Judas there is also a Peter.
Some rebound, others never turn back. Satan ever seeks opportunity to sidetrack us, weigh us down with resentments and bitterness, knock us out by giving in to evil desires. So each one must look to one’s own heart, unmask the evil that lurks there, and disarm the potential for spiritual disaster. When we feel strongest we are at our most vulnerable (1 Corinthians 11:12). Taking up the whole armor of God, we may be sure of “having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13 ESV).
Our hearts go out to the families involved and to the Fourth Street church in Selmer. We pray for the three small daughters of the Winklers. We pray for those who are weakened by this tragedy.
And we resolve to guard our own hearts and love our brothers and sisters in such a way that sin may be squelched in our midst before it bears its bitter fruit.

11 thoughts on “The Tragedy Among Us

  1. I really enjoyed your kind comments and very appropriate reminders. As members of the one true church which belongs to Christ we should never forget that we too are susceptable to pain and suffering.

  2. Thank you for your comments and reminder that all of us can be hit by Satan because he is alive and well and does not care whether it is saint or sinner that He influeneces. As is often said, but for the grace of God go I.

  3. Thank you so much for this article.
    My heart breaks for Mary, her children and the Winkler family.
    How fast Satan can enter into our hearts without our being mindful. May love abound in all of us and show her we care.

  4. I am praying for the families involved in this tragedy, especially the three precious daughters of Matthew and Mary. May they know they are never without people who care for them.

  5. I appreciate your article. Do you have the mailing address for the Fourth Street Church of Christ so that cards and letters of encouragement may be sent to the congregation?

  6. Friends, I am upset that CNN used a Baptist pastor, Tom Rukala, to attack the Lord’s church. He misrepresented the church on Monday evening. Thanks you, sincerely, Bob Marden

  7. I am the preacher of the Ellisville Church of Christ in Ellisville,Ms I wonder if it would be possible to reprint this article in our church Bulletin

  8. Is there any way to obtain Mary Winkler’s address where she is locked up? I would like to send her a card.
    I appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you and God bless.

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