The sight is becoming all too-familiar. They interrupt regular programming with breaking news from a school in some town you probably never heard of, and the first thing you see is kids running from the school with their hands in the air. They tell you there’s been another random shooting, and the scroll across the bottom of the screen gives you the latest unconfirmed body count.
This week we saw another senseless tragedy, on Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesdayeven. This time it was in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. There were 17 people killed, and another couple of dozen injured, as a former student stormed the hallways at the end of a school day gunning down innocent students with an automatic weapon. It was among the ten deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history, many of which have occurred in the last few years.
It is a national problems with no easy answers.
Some would suggest that we need to make our schools more secure, as if turning them into practical prisons–with more armed guards, security entrances and locked doors–will solve the problem. We can’t hire enough police officers to guard every door of every classroom of every school, but even if you could, that would not eliminate every opportunity for such violence.
Every fast food restaurant, grocery store, mall, hospital, concert venue or public sports arena is fair game. And as we have seen, there have even been several random shootings in churches across the country the last few years. No place is safe from someone intent on doing evil.
Others suggest that guns are the problem, and that what is needed is stricter gun laws. Aside from political arguments over 2nd amendment rights, there is the practical argument that those who are intent on going so far as killing other people are not going to worry about breaking a gun law. For that matter, there are already pretty strict laws on the books forbidding murder, but obviously that isn’t stopping anybody. Likewise, there are plenty of people buying and using illicit drugs whether they are legal or not, so I would expect that criminals with evil intent will find guns. Plus, there are other options for those who want to do harm to the masses, as we have seen with those making bombs, or using their cars as weapons on crowded streets and sidewalks.
We certainly should do all we can, and take every safety measure possible, to prevent these things from happening. In that regard, Shelby Crossings has a Security Team that has been very active in receiving information and training over the past few years to make sure we are prepared as best we can be to protect our church body from any kind of active shooter event, among other threats.
Still, there are no quick fixes, and no easy formulas to stop the violence. We did not get into the mess over night, and we probably won’t see change over night. We have been on a downward moral spiral for some time, and just as water going down the drain picks up speed as it gets closer to the end, the rapid acceleration of the decline in our cultural morality reveals that we are close to bottoming out as a society.
My take on this issue is simple, and you may even say simplistic. Primarily, we as a nation have a heart problem. Whether it is the purposelessness that comes from being told all our lives that we are just a random accident evolved from primordial sludge, or whether it is the devaluing of the sacredness and sanctity of human life in any form, that naturally plays itself out in every form, we have some belief issues that are showing themselves in behavior issues.
You cannot make great effort to secularize a nation and pull any remnants of God and faith from the marketplace–and the classroom–and expect that in doing so you don’t produce a generation where godless acts will follow.
That’s where we as the body of Christ come in. What is our role? To be the church. To be a people of hope, of compassion, of truth, of justice, of the gospel. To shine the Light in the darkness. If it is a heart problem we have, then the good news is, we have answers, since our very purpose deals with matters of the heart. Jesus Christ can change hearts, as He has in each of our lives.
Please don’t stop praying for our country, that the Lord would bring revival to our land. And once again, let it begin with us.