Our country is being racked by wave after wave of grief as school after school falls victim to mass shootings. A couple weeks ago we had the second school shooting that injured over 10 people this year (http://www.gunviolencearchive.org). There is definitely a political dimension to the solution, but since I am not a politician, I’ll leave that to them. However, as Christians, we have a call to be light in our world. We are commanded by God to love each other and work to bring peace and justice.
I feel like it is time for the church to step up to the plate. I believe that it’s time to stop listening to the voices that divide us and work together to change this culture that creates an environment where this kind of evil happens over and over again.
How do we do that? I think it’s simple: Act and Pray.
It’s time for Christians to act. I’m not talking about lobbying congress, though that may need to happen too. I’m talking about personal action: right here, in our community. Every time I see another one of these stories my heart breaks not just for the victims, but for the perpetrator. It is almost too depressing for me to think about how dark the life of these kids must have been, how confused, how depressed, how angry, and how sick their minds had become.
Every single time I wonder where were the people loving them? Where were the teachers and librarians and store clerks and waitresses and peers and pastors speaking words of grace, peace, and love? Where were the Christians who, seeing a lost soul, sat down and befriended them? Where was the church that opened their arms to hurting teens that had discipline issues and bad habits?
Friends, it’s time for you to act. While the pundits are finding new ways to use this tragedy to make us hate each other and the politicians are debating over a new shade of grey for our laws, it’s time for you to do something. The solution to these issues is not to separate and guard against what might happen. The solution is for every teen in our country to be loved. The solution is for every adolescent to be surrounded by people who were trying to help in small ways and big ways. The solution is for every single student to know that they are not alone, and that is YOUR job. That is MY job.
I want to challenge you to stop by the office at the school you pass every day and tell them you are there to volunteer. I want you to say that you want to be there for the kids that the teachers can’t handle. I want you to ask to be set up as a mentor for students whose parents don’t give them enough. I want you to offer to do whatever is needed in the wealthy kids lives who are still isolated and alone. I want you to offer to love.
Because it’s our job. It’s our job as Christians to fill this world with the love and grace and peace and justice of our loving God. It’s our job to follow Jesus’ example and lay down our lives for each other, and right now the people in need of that are these kids.
I want you to call the youth minister at your church and ask how you can be a small group leader or Sunday School teacher. Whenever you see a student in your church, I want you to smile. When they text during the service I want you to make it your mission to make them feel especially welcome.
Because, it’s your job.
But it’s also time for us to pray. To get on our knees and beg for God to heal our land and transform the hearts of our teens and young adults. But here’s the thing, I don’t want you to pray an anonymous prayer that God would help. I want you to pray a courageous prayer.
I want you to pray that God would make you part of the solution. I want you to pray that God would open up opportunities for you to show love to the young people in our community. Everywhere. I want you to ask God to open up opportunities for you to be a light of love on a local school campus, and I want you to pray that God would give you the courage to obey. They courage to obey his call to love. Because, that is our job.
Love God. Love People. Change the World