Throughout humanity, violence has been a common thing—a horrific and tragic thing. While our nation has had its fair-share of violence and death, the sobering reality comes to light for many when it’s in our own city. We need to understand that shootings, death, and evil happen among the global nations daily. We just don’t see it firsthand and/or have grown so numb to tragedie’s realities.
This past weekend, two unrelated events occurred. First, a shooting after a football game between Raines High School and Lee High School. Then on Sunday, August 26th, there was a mass shooting at The Jacksonville Landing. These two tragedies were very proximate to our church family and friends in our circle of influence.
For many, these events will cause them to pause and reflect on the frailty of human life. For others, they will want to shift blame to the NRA and cry out for stricter gun control. Still others will defend the 2nd Amendment. Some will feel the weight of racial divide. Some will be neutral and unaffected. Others will feel helpless and only able to muster up the words “Good vibes, thoughts, and prayers,” while others will feel angry towards those same words posted to social media. Many just want to know “why and who” do they point blame towards.
We want answers. “If only ‘blank’ would change, we’d never have this issue again.” Or “If God was real and good, this would not happen.” The latter is one of the harder questions, because we all want our free will and choice, expect as tragedy hits. Then, we want God to intervene ... it’s a difficult matter to articulate.
So, Maybe we should not be so quick to debate and argue, but instead remember a few things:
1. Regarding Friday night, I encourage people to listen. There are all sorts of opinions about what should happen and/or what needs to happen, primarily from those who don’t live in that neighborhood. I have friends and acquaintances who are on the ground and in the trenches, who have a different story and perspective of what God is doing and has been doing ... go and listen to them. It’s going to be tough; you’ll hear a lot you don’t agree with or want to hear. But, listen and learn. Consider hearing from those with 2nd Mile Ministries and the EVAC Crew to start.
2. Remember that sin is deeper than we want to acknowledge. Whatever transpired in the heart of young Mr. Katz to take a gun and shoot up a video-game tournament is part of a deeper sin issue; neither gun reform nor stricter laws can dictate morality of the heart. Violence is the outworking of a much deeper sin issue. The only hope for the violence to end is the gospel and its implications through God’s people.
3. Remember that the gospel is our greatest need. The only way we’ll see a world of non-violence, is to witness when every knee bows and tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord as God restores heaven on earth—dealing with sin and evil once for all. The gospel is the need of every man and woman to be reconciled to God because of sin and brokenness. The gospel is the greatest need.
4. Even still, remember the implications of the gospel. Many people will say “just preach the gospel.” To that I say “yes and amen,” but also do. There are biblical truths of how the gospel moves toward action. There is a call to action; sadly the church often has no clue what to do. The church is commanded to fight for justice, serve the poor. Yet, as the church, we far too often find ourselves frozen.
5. Remember to trust scripture. Our elders have suggested a few texts to rest and reflect upon today as you sort through the pain and confusion.
1. Joshua 1:9 - To be steadfast in faith and trust in God at all times
2. Psalm 73:26 - To be reminded that our flesh will fail, but God never will
3. Lamentations 3:21-24 - To remind of his steadfast compassion and faithfulness
- Pastor Boyd Bettis & Eldership