Like many of you, I turned on the news this past week and saw the reports… Another school shooting. This time in Parkdale, Florida. I couldn’t bear to watch for more than a minute…
More death. More shattered lives.
It’s times like these that our emotions can run rampant… grief, fear, anger… These emotions are important and real, and we need to allow ourselves to feel them. God gave us these emotions and they are gifts to help us process the pain we experience.
The danger in times like these, however—especially when we are wrestling with such strong emotions—is the temptation to make enemies of those with whom we disagree. Tragedies like this awaken debates that tend to polarize us. We take sides and find ways to blame each other. Throw in the fact that social media is highly impersonal, and we end up engaging in the wrong conversation in ways that hurt and alienate.
But making enemies of one another will get us nowhere.
At a time like this…
it might be helpful to ask two questions:
- What does God want for the world?
- How can we partner with God to bring that about?
What does God want for the world? I think God wants a world where we don’t have to be afraid. Where our children are safe. A world without mental illness and deep despair. In which people really love one another and people know the unconditional love and compassion of God. A world in which each person hears the voice of their Heavenly Father say to them, “You are my beloved child. With you I am well pleased.”
Would anyone ever engage in acts of violence in a world like that?
But a world like that seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? How could a world like that ever exist?
And yet, God’s invitation to us is to partner with him in bringing about that kind of a world—a world of shalom. A world in which all is as God meant it to be.
The question for each one of us during a time like this is, how is God inviting me to partner with him to bring healing and wholeness into the world? What gifts, what skills, what passions, what resources, what networks, might I bring to bear at such a time as this?
The Better Way
The calling of the church is always to be light in a dark world. To bring healing to a broken world. To be a partner to the One who will one day make all things new.
Karl Barth said it this way:
The Church exists to set up in the world a new sign which is radically dissimilar to the world’s own manner and which contradicts it in a way which is full of promise.
Isn’t that beautiful? We have been called to lead the world “in a way which is full of promise.” As we grieve and mourn the lost lives of more students and the broken life of a 19-year-old boy who engaged in such violence, let’s not focus on how to win arguments or battles. Let’s stay focused on this question:
How can we, the church of Jesus, with all the myriad gifts and resources with which we have been graced, lead the world into “a way which is full of promise”?