It’s been a week since the tragedy in Newtown, CT. I have spent a week thinking, praying, and listening. In the process I have noticed a tendency of our culture…we will both overreact and under react to situations. I have heard both over the last week. “We need to ban all guns forever,” or “Ain’t nobody taking my guns.” How about, “Adam Lanza was just mentally ill” to “Adam Lanza was pure evil.” Another thing I’ve heard, “This was just an unavoidable tragedy,” to “this was a government conspiracy.” And then the overreaction of some Christians, “This is what happens when God isn’t in schools.” These are just a few of the phrases that have been bantered about in conversation over the last week.
Now let’s take a step back. There is probably a kernel of truth in many of these statements. None is entirely untrue. However, none are statements that I believe we should start forming policy or thought around. Why? Because they are all vast over or under reactions to a situation. They are based on emotion…either the emotion that naturally comes with such a heart-breaking tragedy or the emotion to holding fast to things we have always heard, known, and never really thought through. It is never, in any circumstance, to react and make decisions purely on emotion. Jeremiah tells us that our hearts are deceitful and sick. We cannot depend on it, because emotions can cloud our good judgement. Emotion, reactions, however do serve a purpose…they give us a spectrum.
Each of these statements are not and should not be absolute solutions. They should, however, give us a spectrum to work within. The truth lies somewhere in between and we should work now to find those answers. These kind of statements are great because they give us a starting point to begin meaningful dialogue that will grow us, challenge us, and we would hope to make us better.
I believe this practice is deeply biblical and we as followers of Christ should model it. Why do I think this? Because we are given the truth above that our hearts are deceitful and we are also given a tool…prayer. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5 to pray continually, or pray without ceasing. He also says to take all proclamations, test them, hold on to what is good, get rid of what is not. In all things we are to seek God, in all circumstances we are to ask God, and in all situations we are to use the tools God has given us. Prayer keeps us from reacting and allows us to discern. That’s what we need now, discernment not reaction.
So please, I ask all who read this, resist the temptation to react. If you read this and aren’t a believer in Jesus, at the very least join in dialogue. Don’t just react, don’t just stick to your thoughts. Bring them to the table and let’s discern. If you are a Christian, don’t boil this down to some simple answer that further pulls us away from the table in culture. Let’s model this. Let’s be on our knees, praying for the families and our country, but also praying that God would take our humanity and pride out of the equation and help us to discern how to move forward. Let’s end the cycle of over and under reaction that only leads to further retreat and devolves into a hate debate. Let’s test, pray, discuss, and discern. And maybe, just maybe, we will find a way forward that will make our schools, our country, and our world a better place.