Today marks one week from the tragic shooting in Parkland, FL that claimed another seventeen lives as the country’s latest mass murder. While my heart aches for all those involved as I mourn with those who mourn, my spirit is heavy as I read the predictable responses of insensitivity to the blood soaked bodies of young, innocent martyrs who will never get their opportunity at Life, Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness because they were quite literally caught in the crossfire of binary opposition and bipartisan loyalty valued more precious than their lives. My God, what have we as a free nation become?
I am quite certain that there will be those who read my blog today who will attempt to paint me as a “leftard” or “libtard” or any one of other convenient labels used to defuse any rational dialogue; while I am not a leftist, I’m also not concerned with the labels applied to this or to me. I am deeply troubled that the lives of these children who are precious in the eyes of God, will be swept under the rug of personal liberties by the broom of Second Amendment demagoguery in the hands of wealthy profiteers whose collective voices and financial influence speak volumes over the cries of those not even old enough to cast a vote yet or otherwise defend themselves. More disgusting to me is that many of these will be my Christian siblings in the faith, touting self-defense against a non-existent tyrannical government, citing Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union as reason enough to possess weapons that to date have only been effectively used in perpetrating heinous evil against children we have failed to adequately protect. Things ought not to be this way in America!
So I am forced to look inward as I struggle for answers. Have I aided in these tragedies by my silence or inactivity? Am I fulfilling the laws of scripture in loving my neighbors as much as or more than I love myself? In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth; if we lose our saltiness, we become worthless and are good for nothing but ground cover. How do we maintain our taste? In the same manner we are called light, but we shed no light if we keep our light dimmed or hidden under a lamp shade. The answer to this is found in another passage that reads that the world will know we are believers and followers of Christ and his teaching when they witness how we love and support each other. This is not a love that is exclusive to believers; in fact Christ said to love our enemies and any who pose a threat to us. He said how easy it is to love someone who loves you in return, but true religion is loving on the unlovable. But when these arguments arise over the social ills of humanity and how to Biblically address them, we can’t even adequately love or respect each other-we in essence lose our saltiness and worse we shed what little light we have left poorly on authentic Christianity. I fear if things don’t change we are going to have so much to answer for some day and will have nothing of merit to offer as a defense except an amendment to a Bill of Rights for a bordered plot of land that no longer exists. Have we become that earthly minded that we have completely disregarded Kingdom obedience?
An influential young leader once asked Jesus how he might obtain Heaven, and Jesus responded with the parable we have all heard about the Good Samaritan. It is so widely adopted that the term “good Samaritan” is almost a generic term now. At the heart of the parable was the question, just who exactly, is my neighbor. I can’t begin to address the disdain Jews held against those of Samaria. But the lesson for us is that in his time of great need and distress, it wasn’t the church who came to his aid, nor the local government, but it was he who was viewed as an enemy who took up the cause of attending to the man’s wounds and paying for his care. The neighbor was the person who showed kindness, compassion and mercy to the victim of the crime. He paid from his own pockets for the care needed and held back no expense in restoring the victim in a show of true faith and Godly love. That should be the response of all believers when faced with defending the defenseless; our personal rights and welfare, if we bear the title of Christian, must become secondary to meeting the needs of those who befall tragedy. I realize how unpopular a statement this is and that it will not be well received because, after all, we are Americans and we have rights. To that I must reply, at what age do those rights become applicable? Do we have rights upon birth? Do we have rights only if we vote in elections? Do we have rights only after we reach the legal age to purchase a weapon? And if so, then upon whom does the care and custody of those with no rights befall? What reasonable explanation can be offered to the parents of a child who did not come home from school as to why there were no controls in place to secure the safety of their children? Why has the love of Christ and its manifestation been stifled by the “me first” self-preservationist attitudes of those more fearful of intrusion than reliant on God’s sovereign hand of protection?
The whole of the gospel is love, pure, untainted, unsoiled, non-partisan, unselfish Christ-like love. The old song says “What the world needs now is love, sweet love-it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of”. Those lyrics are just as true today as they were back when. But that love can’t be regulated or legislated. And it can’t be manufactured as Biblically mandated except through the supernatural transformation of a relationship with Jesus, the Christ. But if we who have access to this supernatural gift are too fearful to express it when needed the most because of divisive labels and hateful rhetoric within our own family ranks, then God have mercy on a society that will never get better, and forgive us for looking the other way when our children pay the ultimate price as we cling to our automatic weapons, just in case. In that instance, the salt of the earth has lost all of its flavor worthy of nothing more than being discarded and trampled.