Our nation has suffered far too many school shootings recently. Even one is too many. People argue the number of 2018 incidents based on what “qualifies” as a school shooting, which shows they’ve lost sight of the real issue. Any time someone with a gun is in or near a school with intent to harm, it is unacceptable. School should be a haven for learning and play, not a place where death and destruction devastate a community.
A scourge of criticism has emerged against the Christian community for offering platitudes of “thoughts and prayers” without taking what is perceived to be practical action. I am a woman of prayer, yet to an extent, I have to agree.
Prayer is powerful and can move mountains. I believe that it should always come first in response to tragedy. However as the Church, representatives of Jesus Himself, we must follow His lead. We see from His own example that He moved among the hurting and laid His hands to work in the lives of the broken.
Jesus saw a flawed and hypocritical religious system in the Pharisees and had no trouble bringing it to their attention. He did this with bold words of truth that caused the hearers to bristle, but the words had to be said
When considering what our response should be, we simply need to look at the Savior’s methods. Jesus laid hands on the sick, healing them, then often gave them a word of instruction like “go and sin no more” or “go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you”.
Some examples of the physical element of Jesus’ healings include:
- Jesus spitting in the dirt to make a salve for healing blind eyes (John 9:6)
- Jesus commanding the lame man to take up his mat and walk (John 5:8)
- Jesus’ garment being touched by the bleeding woman (Mark 5:34)
- Jesus taking a dead girl’s hand before resurrecting her (Mark 5:41)
- Jesus healing the severed ear of Malchus (Luke 22:51)
Other miracles of Jesus include physical elements also, such as the miraculous haul of fish in John 21:6-9 and the feeding of 5000 in Matthew 14:13-21. There are many more examples, but they share a common thread, which is a physical action partnered with Jesus’ words. Ultimately, He took the long walk to Calvary and faced the cross after saying He would. Love in action.
I can’t help but ruminate on this in light of yet another school shooting in Florida last week. Jesus had the ability to speak a word and see His will done, yet the physical component was present in most of His miracles. For some reason, He chose to do things this way.
The Bible is clear that on many occasions, Jesus withdrew to pray to His Heavenly Father. He knew the importance of prayer and communion with God in order to do the work He had come to Earth to complete.
Likewise, we absolutely need to get alone with God and pray for our nation. We must storm the gates of heaven on behalf of our schoolchildren, teachers, lawmakers, law-enforcement officers, and those who feel so alone and hurt that opening fire is perceived as their only option to make themselves heard.
The profile of people who commit these acts is often eerily similar. Regarding each school shooting in Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland, the perpetrators were troubled young men suffering from mental illness, family turmoil, or bullying. Their motives for launching an assault in what should be one of the safest places imaginable cannot be legislated.
The human heart and mind cannot and will not conform to changes in the law. They operate outside of these confines, which I believe is why there is such uproar over what to do.
Are tougher gun laws on assault weapons needed? Undoubtedly. Should there be better systems in place through schools and the healthcare system to support and treat those suffering from mental illness? Absolutely. Should Christians pray? Without ceasing!
What we must do is stop treating this devastating phenomenon like it is a neat and tidy issue that has a single solution. It isn’t just about gun control or mental health improvements. It isn’t just about prayer either. For every person touched by these events, the answer to how each will respond may be different. And that’s okay.
What we must do is stop treating this devastating phenomenon like it is a neat and tidy issue that has a single solution.
Depending on what your prayers move you to (and your prayers should move you), you must act. Do the physical thing. Take action. Write an email to your political representative. Attend a protest. Sit with the lonely kid at lunch. Mentor a child. Speak life and encouragement to someone who is hurting. Report something you think is a problem. Our prayers should spur us to action if we are listening to God and asking Him how we can be part of the solution.
There’s a particular scripture that comes to mind in various circumstances of my life. It always give me pause as I consider what my action should be.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
Don’t just sit there. Don’t just pray. Follow Jesus’ example and let actions accompany the words of your prayers. Your action doesn’t have to be like your neighbor’s or your coworker’s. Ask God how you can be His hands, feet, or voice in a broken world where bullets fly in places they never should.
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