How Christians Should React to Mass Shootings
I long for the day when Christianity will become more about following Christ than about following a political agenda. I long for the day when Christians will drop politics and pick up a cross to carry. I long for the day when Christians will value the lives and souls of individuals more than our own comfort and desires. I long for the day when all the words and actions by Christians converge to form a Gospel-centered response to sin. After all, in the Christian worldview the root of all evil is sin, not a political agenda, not access to an object, not a philosophy, not a geographical area, etc., but sin—sin is the great demise of the physical world and our spiritual lives. Sadly, instead of focusing on the sin which initiated these mass shootings, many Christians take to social media and personal conversations to engage in dialogue about inanimate objects, philosophies, geography, culture, etc. and never speak to the thing that every part of Creation is truly at war with: sin. Christians MUST react differently and Christians MUST have a Biblical Christocentric reaction to these mass shootings.
1. Put Down the Keyboard and Pick Up Your Sword
Our first reaction to tragedy is to combat the tragedy through our keyboard—we want to speak into the tragedy before allowing the Lord to speak to us. Instead of picking up our keyboards and writing, we should first pick up the Sword (Word of God) and allow it to shape us before turning it towards others (Matthew 7:1-6, Hebrews 4:12). The most foolish of speech is the speech that is guided by man’s thoughts and desires in rebellion or ignorance to the Word of God. We should constantly be full of the Word of God, and our speech should reflect that. (1 Peter 4:11) The world needs to hear from God, because only He can save, redeem, make new, heal, comfort, etc. Be faithful to your own discipleship to be faithful in speaking into the lives of others
2. Focus On the Spiritual to Change How We Handle the Material
Throughout my newsfeed on Facebook and Twitter, Christians have already engaged in the debate about gun control, even though these Christians know the problem isn’t a material one but a spiritual one. Here’s an idea: quit focusing on material items and focus on the spiritual problem that causes people to sinfully abuse material items. Quit focusing on objects that fit in our hands and focus on the heart and soul that causes the hands to act. For a Christian to solely focus on dealing with political reforms focused on handling materialistic objects while neglecting to deal with the spiritual brokenness of our world, is to push away Christ in order to make our own desires, agenda, and idols a priority. People don’t need to hear from you about your political stance, people need to hear about the hope found in Jesus. The call to follow Jesus is synonymous with sharing with others about Jesus. Jesus did not say in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and wait till it’s politically advantageous to fish for men (share the Gospel).” No, he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” These mass shootings and other tragedies are a perfect time to “fish for men,” and to reveal the glorious story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can change the spiritual nature of a man in order to change how he handles the material. Don’t blow these opportunities! Talk about the Gospel, it impacts both today and eternity—politics does not.
3. Pray Before You Speak and Write
Prayer not only unites us with God, but when we pray for people, God gives us love, compassion, sympathy, and the right heart to both speak and act towards them in a situation. Before we respond to any mass shooting, ask yourself, “Have I prayed about what to say and/or do? Does what I want to say and/or do glorify and magnify God?” Chances are, if you haven’t prayed about it, it’s not going to be Godly. Why? God says in Isaiah 55:10, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Chances are, if you have not united with God in prayer, your words and actions will also not be united with God. Our sinful hearts can often cause us to say and do things which are either wrong or done in the wrong method, but when we pray for the right words, actions, and heart to say them, God makes us more able to properly minister in a situation. Above all, pray for God to move regardless of what you say or do.
4. Make Little of You and Your Opinion and Make Much of Christ
For some reason, God decided to use you and me to spread His glory across this world, but that does not mean that you or I may make more of ourselves than of Christ. John the Baptist, in preparing the way for Jesus’s ministry said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) In case you don’t know the story of John the Baptist, he was beheaded because of his continual witness for Christ. His life did not make much of himself (he lived a tough lifestyle) or his opinion (he was too busy talking about Christ), and it cost him—but his reward was far greater than his self-esteem or praise from men. Yes, making much of Christ costs us, but it costs us and others far more to make little of Christ. (Luke 14:25-33) Make sure whatever you say and do points to Christ and not to yourself or your opinion.
5. Serve Needs Instead of Only Seeing Needs
Mass shootings cause a humanitarian need for comfort, counseling, a shoulder to cry on, food, security, etc. and the Church should be on the frontlines providing these things. The old saying is true, “No one cares what you say if they don’t know that you care.” Taking care of people’s physical needs is also a part of the Gospel as God is not just seeking spiritual renewal and healing, but to restore everything back to the Garden of Eden’s status of well-being and wholeness in physical and spiritual. Serve in love to share Christ’s love.
Christians are commanded by the King of Kings to be His witnesses to the world, and for us to do any different is to rebel against His commands. Every day there are opportunities to share the life-altering Gospel of Jesus Christ with others, and these mass shootings should be a clear opportunity for us. The world does not need us to make more laws for them or to debate current laws, the world needs us to share about the way out of “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2) and how to obtain the perfect law of freedom in Christ. (James 1:25) Will you pick up God’s Word before you speak? Will you focus on the spiritual need of people? Will you pray before speaking and writing? Will you make much of Christ?
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