Although I spent my childhood in a little town just outside of Oklahoma City, my mom got remarried one summer during junior high. Her new husband worked for an oil company which transferred him to Odessa just two days before I started the eighth grade.
I graduated High School there, went off to college, and then moved right back when I married a guy who was a born-and-raised Odessan. When he decided to end our marriage, my best friend encouraged me to make the 17-mile hop over to Midland, where she and her family could walk me through those difficult days.
As a result, I’ve been in the Midland-Odessa area for the better part of my life.
My (new) husband and I were out of town for the Labor Day holiday, but heard about the shooting from a California friend who’d seen it on the news. After checking on our friends and family members who were not with us, we were forced — along with the rest of the world — to watch the unfolding of these tragic events from a distance.
Unfortunately, the incidence of mass shootings seems to be keeping a relatively quick pace, and experiencing it so close to home got me thinking about ordinary ways that we, as Christ-followers, might be able to affect some degree of positive change.
Inspiration from the Old Testament
The Book of Judges tells the story of the nation of Israel just after Joshua’s death. There was no clear leader in place, leaving the individual citizens to behave however they so chose (Judges 21:25). Although Joshua had successfully cleared the land of the Canaanites so that Israel could regain her promised homeland, not all of the Canaanites were removed. Israel’s attempt to live peacefully among them often resulted in Canaanite domination over the Hebrew people.
This, in turn, would eventually lead the Israelites to cry out to God for help and rescue from their violent oppressors. The Bible says that God would have compassion on them, and send rescue usually in the form of a Judge whom He’d appointed for this task. But, like all humans, the Judge’s life would come with an expiration date, leaving the Israelites without their deliverer after all. Slowly, they’d drift into sin and away from obedience to God — who had originally instructed them to be faithful at the task of sending all the Canaanites packing.
These microcycles of sin and drift, oppression and misery, outcry and help would fill the pages of the Book of Judges. And the primary reason for it is because the Israelites failed to comply with God’s instructions to empty the land. Thinking that they could compromise, they made themselves vulnerable.
21st Century Application
It seems to me that we’ve done something similar. We, in the US, have largely forgotten our heritage of faith, and the Christian Worldview consensus which laid the foundation for our great nation. By wandering away, and replacing our previously Christian worldview with a secular one, we have fallen into the misery created by a repeating cycle of violence.
And it seems that we now need our own brand of deliverance.
4 Things We Can Do To Change the Cultural Tide
1.) Pray for the courage to confront the contribution that the secular worldview has made to the problem. The Mother Jones website keeps a database of mass shootings in the US since about 1982. A great many of the shooters have little to no family or community support. They’re angry, they’ve faced some kind of significant loss in their recent histories ( like a job or a romantic relationship or a family member) and they’re battling despair and insignificance.
These are issues the Body of Christ is well-equipped to handle. In addition to being instructed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help the poor, we are also taught that all human beings possess inherent dignity and value because we are made in the image of God and have been tasked with the noble cause of being the representatives of God’s wisdom and character in our homes, communities and societies.
The secular worldview, on the other hand, teaches us that we are accidental blobs of protoplasm that managed to survive and serve no real purpose, and have no significance or meaning. We’re all just waiting to die. All we have is now — and when that’s gone, we fade from the scene as if we’d never existed in the first place.
There’s no God to whom we are accountable, nor is there a God to call on for help.
What do you suppose happens inside the hearts & minds of individuals who are told day-after-day, year-after-year, the message that they are just insignificant specks of cosmic dust among millions and billions of other accidental insignificant specks of cosmic dust?
Eventually, they probably believe it.
And we are being foolish to think that somehow, that particular message isn’t capable of doing damage to the mental and emotional well-being of those who give place to it.
2.) Give people a viable alternative. For years. American society has by default adopted the idea that God is false, and religion is a useful fiction, at best. People don’t just come knocking on the preacher’s door to give them answers to life anymore. So if we want them to have hope for a better tomorrow, if we want them to know that they’re valuable and loved regardless of their life’s circumstances — if we want them to know that God has real answers for their lives — we’re going to have to find a way to make the reality of God and His Word plausible to them again. We’re going to have to learn to articulate the reasons behind why the Bible is telling the truth about life and death, and about how to live. We’re going to have to be good at communicating the reasons why we can and should believe that God is real, that Jesus existed, and that the Resurrection is a real event in human history which testifies to the truth of God, the Bible and the Christian Worldview.
3.) Become Biblically Literate. All sorts of people reject the claims of the bible based on things it doesn’t actually say; actions it doesn’t actually endorse, and teachings it doesn’t actually teach. You and I have got to know our Bibles (and God’s character) well enough to identify and correct these misunderstandings on the spot. Plus, it would help if we became committed not only to learning everything we can, but to applying everything we learn, so that we don’t inadvertently turn people away from Jesus by our slipshod and inconsistent lives.
I know its challenging to read the Bible every day. We’re all busy. If you’re struggling to make that a habit, I have created a downloadable PDF workbook for teaching you how to have a quiet time in 15 minutes a day, and I’ll link it for you HERE.
4.) Learn to notice people the way Jesus did. I’m struck by how many times in the NT the Bible says that Jesus healed someone because he noticed their infirmity. He noticed the blind man. He noticed the man with the withered hand. And every time people brought their dead, dying and demon-possessed loved ones to Him, He healed them. Every time. He had compassion on them, and healed them, even when he was trying to get away by Himself for some solitude. Why? Because His compassion for their plight drove Him to help.
We’ve got to learn to notice the loners, the desperate, the angry — the ones living on the edge — before its too late. We’ve got to lend a hand, and we’ve got to bring them to Jesus. Because He heals.
Hi my name is Lori and its my goal here at The SpoonFed Soul to create an online community of 100,000 women who’ll become instruments of healing and hope in the hands of the Divine Physician, for the glory of God and the good of the world. I hope you’ll join me.