School Shootings in Perspective

I am not writing about gun control or mental illness, but something much bigger. I am not trying to minimize the tragedy of what happened Parkland, when a maniac opened fire on students and teachers at a Florida high school. If anything, I will be magnifying it to a horrific degree.

I do not know what the odds are that your son or daughter will be caught in an active shooter situation, but I do know that the odds of them dying some day is 1:1, or 100%. On any given day in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), they could have been one of 7,197 Americans to pass into eternity. That is up from 6,775 in 2008, which is a 422 death per day increase. I am sure that if that there is a way to look at that to ameliorate our shock at that number: the population has increased to a level in those 6 years to explain the increase. And there are ways to deal with the fact that almost 7,200 people die in America every day. After all, on average, only 36 of those deaths are from firearms, which is half a per cent.

Whether you, your neighbor, or your child is a victim of gun violence at an early age, or they live long enough to die in a nursing home in their nineties, they will all pass into eternity, whether they are ready or not. And how many of us are ready? The CDC has no figures on how many people die every day at peace with their maker, versus how many die in terrifying dread, whether it is suddenly or after long, agonizing contemplation. Indeed, we are actively discouraged from even talking about it. I am pretty sure most of us have spent our lives avoiding or resisting the subject, right up to the point of death. That is how messed up we are.

It is so obvious that we are sinners, yet we live in denial. We are more concerned about how we are judged in this life, according to our age, weight, sex, race, ethnicity, political affiliation, gender identity, food choices, etc., than we are about how we will be judged by our God, the one who created us. An offer of free salvation is spurned because we don’t like the people who have accepted it.

Jesus lived during a brutal time under a brutal dictatorship. People were left crucified along the road as an example to anyone who might be feeling rebellious. Yet, He never told people to rise up and fight it. He never criticized the regime. He never asked the government to do something about poverty and suffering. He talked about eternity and how to spend it with Him. He said this world was temporary, and that we should not fear him who can kill the body, but fear Him who can throw you body and soul into hell.

Am I saying we should do nothing about the suffering in the world? No, but we should not forget that suffering survives this world for those who refuse the gift of God given though Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who gave His life as a ransom for many, and who rose again to prove it. If we care less about this than our mortal lives, we are very short sighted.

Remembering the way

In my last post I wrote about Ted Dekker’s “The Forgotten Way,” which I have been reading with my wife, Cindi. We had read it together, with the study guide, and determined to do it again. That desire to repeat the process has turned into an object lesson on how we forget our good intentions. I has been a struggle to find the time to do this consistently, but mostly it comes down to…forgetting. And that is how the way gets forgotten!

As I said last time, the world we see gets more attention than the unseen world. That is why we must be intentional about seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. And this takes focus on the fundamentals. I believe that is why “The Forgotten Way” has a repeating group of thoughts at the heading of so many pages:

We seek to know a love that holds no record of wrongs.

We seek a love that knows no fear.

There is no fear in love.

The recurring themes of love and forgiveness are taught, not as something we must do so much as something we must discover about our God. Perhaps that is because we justify so much of our judgment and lack of love on our belief that God is angry at the object of our anger. I don’t know a single person who has not had the experience of righteous indignation. And I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a single living person say, “Forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”

Forgiving wrongdoing is hard because it can be seen so easily. The blood that was shed to forgive that sin is invisible to us. When the wrongdoing is against YOU, it is even harder to let it go. And if there is a whole advocacy group complex working to keep you reminded of the sins of the past and how they have trickled down to harm you, it is a wonder if “a love that holds no record of wrongs” is ever found.

If you believe in Jesus Christ and what He did for you by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, you have certain spiritual rights. You have the right to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and they are yours if you are in Christ. These rights do not just happen automatically. Like your civil rights, you must insist on them! And you must believe in them in the invisible realm before people will see them in the physical realm.