Let Love Guide Your Life
School shootings have been making the headlines at an increasing frequency. Our nation is now in mourning over the latest shooting that occurred on February 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday) at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This latest tragedy is just one in a long string of senseless shootings. According to news reports, this is the 24th shooting on school grounds since the Columbine school shooting in 1999 during which 13 high school students were killed.
But why is there been so much violence among our young people? A Department of Education Survey which analyzed violence in U.S. schools reported that in the past decade public schools nationwide experienced more than 12,000 fights in which weapons were used, 4,600 rapes and other sexual assaults and over 8,000 robberies. Other reports from Time and Newsweek magazines tell us that the suicide rate among U.S. teens has risen 118% in the last 15 years while drug use has risen almost 90% since 1992.
There are many theories out there trying to answer this question. As people of faith, we ask what does our faith teach about these incidents? After a tragic event, some people turn to apocalyptic verses in the Bible. For example, after the Dallas police shooting in July 2016, the top internet topics that were searched were violence, signs of the end times and Scriptures that talk about the end of the world. For many, and particularly for those affected by these violent acts, these are worthy topics for study. But what does the Bible teach that can help us understand this world we’re living in?
First of all, Scripture teaches us that evil does exist in this world. Where ever there is a God-void, Satan and his underlings step in; they are active, tearing people down, spreading lies, bringing discouragement, preying on the weak and promoting destruction. Satan wants a world filled with fear and confusion.
But Scripture also has the prescription for healing and that is, simply put, to love one another as God has loved us. There is no weapon that is effective against love. I wonder, without researching it, how many of the “shooters” were from broken homes? How many were teased, bullied, or treated as social outcasts? I wonder if they had ever experienced unconditional love? I wonder if it would have made a difference if, from little on, someone had noticed them, hugged them and told them they cared? I wonder if their hearts were crying out to know that God has a plan and purpose for their life and that He loves them?
For those who are victims of these horrible shootings, Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. In referencing Psalm 34:18, we should seek comfort in those words, for we know that God lives in the hearts of those who grieve. The Gospel of John also says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So how do we as Christians respond to these senseless acts of violence?
First and foremost, we pray for the hurting families and the broken communities. We pray that our churches will minister to the hurting and point people in the right direction. We also pray for the perpetrators of these crimes. We pray for people not to lose heart and, yes, we pray for Jesus to come back and set this broken world right. No matter what some in the media might say, spending time in prayer is not a waste of time. We have the privilege to come before Almighty God with our requests and concerns and He does hear us.
Next, we live out our love for one another every day. Loving Christians have always made an impact on every society they’ve ever lived in. Its no different for us. Love is stronger than hate. It is stronger than fear. Timothy teaches, “For you have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and love and a sound mind”. Respond to this evil by doing good and join Jesus on his mission.
A special word to the men who are reading this. I read an article today that gave some statistics that showed that the vast majority of school shooters and those who commit violent acts in general come from fatherless homes. We have it in our power to create a home where love grows strong. Actively love your spouse and your children. If you aren’t together as a couple, find ways to be involved. Welcome the Lord into your home and teach your kids about faith in Jesus.
Finally, pay attention. Care for the young people around you. If something seems wrong, question it. Only good comes when we seek out the truth in any situation. Serve others in this way. Be an ambassador for Jesus in a world that desperately needs Him.
It is my prayer that there will be a revival of God’s Spirit in every human heart and that it will bring about the change that this world so desperately needs. And I pray that it will start with me.
In Jesus Name,
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