Thoughts on Newtown
This is a letter of encouragement and caution to all my brothers and sisters in Christ. The terrible events of Friday, December 14th will live forever in the hearts and minds of our nation. 26 people are dead. It is heartbreaking. And the fact that it happened just a few days before Christmas only highlights the enormous burden we carry as followers of Christ, and bearers of the one and only answer for such evil. We must be His ambassadors at this time. We must speak His Word clearly and carefully, if we are to fulfill our duty as Christians, and we must be His hands and feet to a sin-sick world. These are our primary duties, and I encourage you all to keep that in mind.
Unfortunately, the internet has been filled with Christian responses that were anything but Christ-like. They seem to come in one of two categories. First, there are the “I told you so,” posts. These usually come in the form of, “This is what happens when we take Christ/prayer/Christian values out of schools.” I read one post that said, “Where was Christ in this school shooting?” And Christ’s supposed reply was, “You already told me I didn’t have a place in your schools.” Now I realize that this may have seemed cute and clever, but frankly it is neither. We are not called to be clever; we are called to be Christ-like, and I have a hard time believing that the Son of God who cried at His friend’s funeral, and openly forgave His own murderers, would stoop so low as to win an argument with witty catch phrases.
The second category of Christian response has been in the form of political debate, usually around the issue of gun control. And while it is true that these horrible events may well, indeed will most likely, spark a debate in this nation around our gun laws, this is neither the time nor the place for such a debate. Now is the time for mercy and grace. Now is the time for followers of Christ to seek His face in prayer and intercession for the weak and hurting. Now is the time to reach out to these communities in love and compassion. To do anything else is to seriously misalign your priorities. To engage in political debate, when we could be acting as the hands and feet of Christ, means we have already lost the war, because we have already told the world that the answer to this problem is physical and fleshly, when in reality it is a spiritual battle. This tragedy did not occur because our nation no longer allows prayer in schools. It did not occur because of the presence of, or lack thereof, of gun laws. This terrible tragedy occurred because we live in fallen world, filled with lost men and women. This tragedy occurred because man cannot meet his greatest need on his own. This tragedy occurred because sin always produces death, and we alone have the solution to this problem, and that is Christ, whose birth we are celebrating this season. If this is not our message, then we are utterly lost.
So, Christian, how should we respond to the tragedy in Newtown? May I suggest first, that we pray for the families involved. As a parent who has lost a child I can tell you that clever platitudes and bumper-sticker theology simply will not do at a time like this. What these families need is the body of Christ, lifting them up in intercessory prayer. There are perhaps no more comforting words in all of Scripture than Romans 8:26-27, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us.with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Second, pray for the pastors, churches, and Christians in Newtown and the surrounding area. They will, no doubt, be flooded with questions. Pray that God would call to their minds His Word, and that He would give them both mercy and boldness as they point people to Christ. Third, consider how you and your church could minister to the victim’s families, and the community at large. As the saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” So how can you help? Fourth, be aware of the ministry opportunities around you, and always be prepared to give an answer for the faith that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). Our nation is searching for answers right now, which means we have an opportunity like never before, to share the Gospel, and give them the one and only true answer. Finally, pray for Christ-like compassion and tenderness of heart. We will not win this world to Christ using the world’s weapons. Instead, we look to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, who bravely, and compassionately laid down His own life for ours. This is how we should respond to Newtown. So I ask you Christian, how will you respond?