Of course when I hear of a tragedy like the one that happened yesterday, my heart breaks for the victims’ families and friends and for the ones who witnessed it and must deal with the emotional scars from this forever. I’m unable to comprehend in any form the grief and weight that they will carry now forever. These tragedies instill in us fear and distrust and it’s easy to jump to our go-to talking points on these incidents. But that doesn’t seem to be helping, does it? Maybe we need to take a step back, look at the whole picture, and see if there isn’t another possible approach.
To be perfectly clear: I am not anti-gun nor am I a pacifist. I have tried to look at this issue from all sides and I feel like there is an element from a Christian perspective that maybe we are missing. Is an ultimate solution to add money into the budget for armed personnel at every school? Maybe. Is it a solution to restrict access? I don’t know. I just know that it’s time we all start listening to each other instead of fighting. Church, please hear me out.
I’m no expert by any stretch on, well, anything, but I’ve learned a few things in my 11 years of faith and 10 years of youth ministry. By and large, the kids who act out the most or go on to hurt themselves or others are kids who don’t feel noticed, accepted, loved, or worthy. They don’t see why they are here and can’t fathom having a purpose. When your life centers around you and there is seemingly no value to it, it makes some sense why these things can occur. These kids feel wronged and since life has no meaning apart from themselves, they feel hopeless and trapped because they truly do not believe that things can get better.
As a Christian, I know that every person on this planet is loved, worthy, and has a purpose. And that there is always hope. But there are so many people that can look into the mirror and see no hope, no purpose, and can’t imagine ever being loved. I’ve worked with many troubled teens and can attest that they truly feel this way and the depths of this hopelessness is soul crushing. So what can we do? How are we, as individuals, supposed to help any of this?
There’s no way I could fully explain the intricacies and nuance of a life following Christ, at least not in one blog post certainly, but I can fully attest to the fact that it is better. Even if our circumstances don’t change at all, Christ changes us and refines us and that’s what we need.
Church, imagine the burden of thinking that in your life, all that matters is what you make of yourself through your own effort and achievements. We are often so far removed from our pre-Christ selves that we don’t see that that is an enormous burden and one that our neighbors are shouldering. And that that “truth” as they see it does not reconcile well with a sin-sick world that glorifies violent and dangerous behavior. Add to that the burden teens feel due to social media. Don’t blow it off just because we don’t understand it as an older generation, it creates pressures that we just cannot fathom. And if you are growing up outside of the church, you likely don’t have that support system or that place to go to feel loved and cared about. These kids are hurting so deeply and it tears me up inside.
If we are looking for a cure for this violence, I believe it must go deeper than guns and deeper than saying “they need Jesus” although, of course, I believe that’s true. I’m not anti-gun by any means but I’m also not crazy enough to believe that a secular society, such as ours, that is taught from day one to look out for #1 and that there is no inherent value in life because there is no God and we are all here by complete random chance, is capable of raising children and teens that have a solid foundation and can be kept from actions like these. So perhaps reformed gun laws are in order so that we can protect this next group of kids because, truthfully, Church, we aren’t doing enough. Saying “It’s a heart problem not a gun problem” isn’t good enough. Is it true? I believe so, yes. But we must as a whole take a long and difficult look in the mirror and realize that our faith without actions is dead. Useless. Pointless. Christians do a whole lot more talking than acting these days and there is just no fruit from that. And Jesus tells us we will be known by our fruit. No wonder the world takes one look at us and decides it doesn’t want to a part of our stale and complacent faith.
Do I believe law-abiding citizens should have to give up their guns? No. But I do believe if every law-abiding, self-proclaimed Christian would step up and get involved in the lives of young people through mentoring or something along those lines, these tragedies would decrease greatly, maybe even disappear.
It’s no secret that America is becoming more and more secular every year as people leave their faith in droves, some stats for a place to start. These stats should spur us on to do better! Perhaps it’s time to take our walls down, listen to the other side, and see if there isn’t middle ground somewhere without compromising our faith. I believe there are issues like abortion that from a faith-based perspective are black and white and there is no middle ground. That the right to life should always be pursued and protected. I think it’s important to take a solid and loving stand on these issues. But is gun control really one of them? I’m open to hearing other sides and very much invite civil conversation, so let me know if you disagree. And please know I’m well versed in both sides of the argument and can fully understand both sides.
We know there is a cure for hopelessness, a cure for soul-crushing self hatred, a cure for life without purpose and Jesus really is the cure for this. We know this, Church! And God has chosen us as the means to deliver this message! I believe our idols of safety and comfort have kept quiet and made us complacent. There are a whole lot of hurting people out there and we aren’t powerless to sit back and do nothing. For we know the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ because we have been made new because of it! The first steps toward personal change and progress are always hard and scary and make us vulnerable and we just don’t like that. But we have so much work to do and with God’s help, it is not impossible.