Yesterday eighteen kids gathered up backpacks and books, they grabbed their favorite colorful lunchbox, and they headed to school. None of them ever made it home. Along with two adults, they are the latest fatalities of the gun-happy, violent society we have built. Tragically, I wrote about the deaths in Buffalo, NY last week. This is America.
I really do not care where you “stand” in the manufactured debate about gun rights and gun control. That binary approach to the problem yields no results and offers no solutions. It is a way to avoid and deny the truth about our nation and culture.
We are a nation that cannot keep school children safe. In 2021, nearly 1,200 kids died from gun violence. In the same year, about four hundred police offers died in the line of duty. It is three times more dangerous to be a kid in grade school than to be a police officer in this country. How long, O Lord?
We are a nation that seems to groom and raise up people, mostly young men, who are so full of hate and despair that they wish to kill. And then, we put assault weapons in their hands with reckless disregard. We throw up our hands and say, “We’re not responsible.” How long, O Lord?
We are a nation that has supplanted communal life and responsibility with a self-centered individualism where we claim the “right” to do what we want, when we want. Everyone else be damned. Then we act surprised when a “lone wolf” shoots up a school. Our media glorifies and sensationalizes violence so that the path to fame (or infamy – either will do), will immortalize every shameful act we can imagine. How long, O Lord?
We are a nation where the “good of the nation” is bought and paid for by the wealthy who profit from violence and prop up “leaders” whose morals are shaped by greed and power. How long, O Lord?
The prophets would say it shall not be forever. A society that has lost its morality, lost its compassion, lost its identity, lost its collective mind will not stand forever. The prophet Amos announces to the nations – “For three transgressions… and for four, I will not revoke the punishment.” (Amos 2:4). Divine punishment is reaping what we sow. It is the consequence of becoming a nation of hate, division, and violence instead of a place of love, compassion, justice and mercy. God will not allow it forever.
History and the courts of heaven will judge a people who cannot – no, will not - keep its children from murder. Time will unfold until finally the gunman, shaped by despair and the cruelty of society, comes for each one of our children and then for us.
We need to repent as individuals and as a nation if we are to stand. The call of scripture, the tears of heaven rain down, beg us to “Return to the Lord your God, for he is patient and merciful, slow to anger and abounding with steadfast love.”
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor