We have them all around us–the lonely, the mentally ill, the disenfranchised, the bullied and the bullies. Sometimes they are almost invisible. Teachers see them every day at their schools, but there is not enough time nor enough resources to reach each one individually.
We see the patterns of individuals who isolate themselves from others, who have obsessions with violent video games, who have not been taught positive ways to deal with anger, grief, pain, and loneliness. And yet, we still do not recognize the signs until it is too late to save them and others from their own poor judgments.
We have the conversations about gun control–pro vs. con, bump stocks, semi-automatic and automatic weapons. And yet guns still wind up in the hands of the mentally ill, criminals, and young men who are angry at the world–often legally.
We have a generation of children who are addicted to their phones and social media and are poor at face-to-face relationships. We have parents who do everything for them–or who do nothing for them.
The issues raised every time there is a Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook or Parkland mass shooting are complex and troublesome. I do not know anyone who thinks this is an issue that is as simple as just banning guns. It is daunting to look at the complexities of these incidents.
But I do know this. We need to find a way when children a very young to identify those who are at risk of being isolated and lonely. We need to provide training for parents to love their children and give them the tools they need to navigate a broken world. We need to bring volunteers into our schools who can love these children and help them find their gifts and passions. We need people who can help children know that their lives matter and they do not need to go through life alone.
The hope of the world is Jesus and as Christians we need to be sharing that good news. What if we, the Christian community, volunteered to be in our schools, reading, tutoring, helping in the lunch lines, watching for the child who no one wants to sit with. What if we helped on the playgrounds and watched for the children who are being bullied, and taught compassion and kindness with our actions and words–to both the bullied and the bullies. What if our churches taught parenting classes for the community, offered after school programs for the single working moms, or a host of other creative ways we can help families. What if we just loved on people. The way Christ did.
I do not have the answers. I do not even pretend to understand the depth and complexities of the problem that leads an individual to think it is okay to slaughter others. I do know that we live in a world full of sin. Satan is a liar and a thief and he will steal the souls of our children, and yes even us, if we let him. It is time for the church to step up and try to make a difference in the world around us. We need to let people know that God loves the unlovable–that he sees the worth in our lives, as messed up and difficult as they are. No matter how many times we hear, the truth is there, right in John 3:16.
How will you respond to God’s love? Will you be willing to step out of your comfort zone and love the unlovable? Will you be willing to volunteer at a daycare or an elementary, middle school or high school to help identify at-risk kids? Will you be a difference maker in someone’s life? It is so easy to talk about solutions, but it is so much harder to be a part of one. Believe me when I say, I am preaching to myself right now. It is time for us Christians to stop pointing fingers and become active in trying to make a difference.