Tragedy in Waco and the Heartbreaking Consequences of Sin

David Burchett
David Burchett

It is Monday. Enough said. And it has been raining pretty consistently here in Texas for weeks. That is the combo platter The Carpenter’s made famous when they sang Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down. The first stanza really captures my mood today.

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit, nothin’ ever seems to fit

That seems about right today as I contemplate the devastating and heartbreaking toll of sin. I know. That is not politically correct. But there is no other word that describes what I am seeing today.

I see a beloved and effective pastor lose his ministry for the false hope of an inappropriate relationship. Sin says that there is more. Sin says that you deserve to be happier and that will only be true in a different relationship. Sin says that God does not really have your best interest at heart. I hate those lies from Satan that we continue to believe.

I see nine men lose their lives in Waco, Texas for finding their identity in groups that promised family and acceptance. These souls likely had found that dynamic no where else in their experience. All of us want to find someone who will accept us for who we are. These men found identity in a group that provided acceptance but not safety. Less we jump to judgement (as we are so skilled at doing) we should wonder what led this pastor to leave his first love and these men to pursue a group that would ultimately lead to violence and death.

As I walked today I grieved over both of these events. But the Waco tragedy made me particularly sad. Sad that we, the body of Christ, have directly or indirectly communicated that joining our “group” requires you to clean up and become something else before you are a real part of our little club.

Jesus put no such requirements on being with Him. We are ones who have often not communicated the liberating joy of the Gospel. We attach the strings instead of shouting that all we need to bring to Him for salvation is our sin and need. Jesus has done the rest.

I am sad that we have too often failed to create a community that does not flinch at inappropriate language, clothing, and behavior. Do you think Jesus would look at a tattoo or at the heart? Would He hear the ugly words of a hurting person or the desperate tone of their need? Would He condemn the sin or embrace the sinner and whisper gently in their ear that there is a better way. Of course there are consequences to sin. Is that ever more clear than when we turn on the news everyday? But the truth is that all of us are sinners. Tullian Tchvidjian nails it perfectly when he says that “all of us fall short of the glory of God but that doesn’t keep us from comparing distances”.

The band MercyMe has written some amazing lyrics over the years, but their most recent CD Welcome to the New is a gold mine of grace nuggets. In the song “Flawless” they zero in on how we have a hard time believing that God can really take a “filthy wretch like this and wrap him up in righteousness but that’s exactly what He did.” If we concentrate on that message we might begin to live differently. The chorus just rocks my world.

No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless
He made you flawless

No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars

Still the truth is
The Cross has made
The Cross has made you flawless.

I am a flawless child of God. Not because of anything I have done, am doing, or will ever do. It is because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. Paul makes it pretty simple.

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.(Romans 10:9, NLT)


We must begin to concentrate on that message of what Jesus has done for us. Whether your sin inventory fills multiple volumes or a post-it note is irrelevant. We all need the Cross. Only the finished work of Jesus makes us flawless. We are all wounded and needing acceptance. My heart grieves for a pastor and for nine souls lost in Waco. One forgot and perhaps those nine never heard or almost certainly never witnessed the one way love and liberating power of the Gospel. Lord, forgive us for our sinful judgement of wounded souls and help us to be a light to a very dark world.

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Originally published May 19, 2015.