As I was engaging in my daily Bible study time this morning, I found that my heart wasn’t in it. You see, I had been reading some news articles about the latest mass shooting–the sixteenth in our current President’s almost eight years of leadership.
In the past, these tragedies have prompted me to write about the incredible power and transformative nature of God’s love–the ability of love to shine a light in the darkness and to cast out all fear.
These tragedies have ignited in me a fire to show God’s love to others in real and meaningful ways. These tragedies have driven me to seek out ways to live a life of love.
But this morning, as I read Paul’s words in 2nd Corinthians 3:18 regarding the transformative power of God, I was just sad and angry. I’m sad because I feel like we, as the Church, are not being transformed. And I’m angry because I feel like our society has just accepted these mass shootings as a new and unfortunate normal. It’s like we collectively shrug our shoulders and sigh, “What are you gonna do?” And the Church does this, too.
The truth is, there’s a lot we can do. And I’d like to think that the Church could lead the charge.
First, as Jesus followers, we can stop politicizing our faith and understand that Jesus didn’t come to lead a political movement. Jesus came from God, the Creator of all things. He already had dominion over the Earth. He recognized that political leadership is temporal, but that spiritual well-being lasts forever. He circumvented politicians and brought healing, forgiveness and transformation to those who needed it most. As his followers, we need to do the same.
While our faith can and should inform our political decisions, our political beliefs should not define our faith. Our actions, ultimately, should point back to Jesus, not a political party.
Second, as Jesus followers, we need to put aside our own theological differences of opinion and unite under a banner of God’s love. The Bible is pretty clear on who sits in the seat of judgement, and it’s not you or me. Our job is to make disciples, and if we use Jesus’ model, we do that by actively loving others–especially those who are marginalized and considered “unclean”.
If we, as Jesus followers, can unite under a banner of love, think of the changes we could bring! The Church has a beautiful and powerful history of leading social change. Under John Wesley, Sunday schools were created to teach illiterate adults how to read. The Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. began in churches across the South as pastors like Martin Luther King, Jr. came together and demanded equality.
Today, it is time for the Church to reclaim that mission. If the government isn’t willing to invest in mental health programs, our churches can. If the government isn’t willing to invest in the education of all American children, regardless of race or class, our churches can. Our churches have the resources necessary to transform our society. Our churches have the almighty power of God waiting to be unleashed on a society in desperate need. We just need to use it.
Finally, as human beings, we need to call for a change in gun policy. Yes, I’m going there. But, I’m not going there politically. I understand and respect the rights of people to own guns. But when that right infringes on another’s (or hundreds of others) right to peaceably assemble, go to school, go to church, go to a movie, or go to work then something has to give. For me, that “give” is going to be working to get a ban on assault rifles. The sale of these weapons creates in me the righteous anger that Jesus demonstrated when he drove the money changers from the Temple. I think it’s the right thing to do.
Our society is in desperate need of transformation. As Jesus people, we have the ability. We just need to let God’s love lead the way.
Blessings and Peace,