December 17, 2012 by cbbeard
I don’t know.
I don’t know how a community navigates a tragedy like the Sandy Hook shootings. I don’t know how a parent whose young child was not only lost, but brutally taken from them and this world deals with the overwhelming grief and anger. I don’t know what could have been done to prevent this tragedy; while hindsight is 20/20, there was no way to know the evil that would take place that Friday morning. In the same way, I don’t know what can be done in the future to prevent more tragedies such as this; getting rid of guns might prevent the way violence is carried out, but it won’t get rid of violence. More security measures at school might make them safer in that venue, but it doesn’t eliminate vulnerability.
There seems to be a lot of “answers” in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. People are quick to offer solutions that they consider to be clear-cut and logical. But I’ve come to the realization that I just don’t know. Every proposition I have heard or read in the last four days seems to have some element of validity to it, but unfortunately the ideas offered as solutions to the ills of society do not seem to pass the test of existential repugnance when carried out exponentially. These solutions make promises that cannot be kept because there will always be one variable that cannot be controlled by law and policy: the choice of a human being.
So I don’t know the answer. The practical solutions to the ills of society are elusive, particularly in a society of liberty and justice for all. The paradox of that liberty and justice lies in the balance between what liberties are freely given and what liberties are hindered to protect the liberties of others. It is this balance that will be debated in the coming months as practical solutions to societal ills are considered. And I just don’t know.
But here is what I do know.
John 11:35 – Jesus wept.
The shortest verse in the Bible is packed with theological significance in that it reveals the compassionate nature of Jesus. Jesus was going to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead for the glory of God, and he surely knew this was going to happen even as Lazarus fell sick. But as Jesus met with Lazarus’ mourning sisters, he was overwhelmed with grief. He was connected to the grief of those he loved even when he knew it was going to be alright.
As I sat and watched the coverage of the Connecticut tragedy, I immediately found an emotional connection with the parents of the young victims, and that led me to weep for them. But whatever connection I had with those families, Jesus has an even greater one. I am convinced that Christ wept alongside those he loved on that terrible Friday morning and that the heart of Jesus was broken by the evil displayed.
John 3:19 – This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
This is a dark and broken world, and evil exists because mankind has rebelled against God. What happened in Connecticut is simply a symptom of a broken system. God created a system that was perfect; his intention was to have a perfect world in which mankind and God would be together in an unhindered relationship of love. But of course love is not love without a choice, and therefore God gives man a choice to follow him or to rebel against him. The initial rebellion of mankind broke the system, ushering in the darkness of evil and death. And as long as God allows time to continue, he will allow man to have a choice to follow him or not. And as long as there is a choice, some will choose to love the darkness instead of light. No policy or law will change that.
1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Fortunately, God calls us out of that darkness and destruction into the light through his Son, Jesus Christ. Those who have accepted that call are the church: a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s special possession with the purpose of declaring his praises and shining that light where darkness reigns.
With all due respect to those who have claimed otherwise, what happened in Sandy Hook Elementary School did not happen because we have “forced” God out of public space. Anyone who thinks that God can be “forced” by policy doesn’t understand the nature of God. As long as the church is present in every sphere of human life, so is God. It is not anyone’s job except the church to ensure God’s presence in the public sphere, and it is up to us to share God’s light in the darkness. The more light we shine, the less darkness will remain.
John 1:5 – The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
When the world seems to be falling apart, we can take hope that in the end, darkness does not prevail! Yes, this world is dark and broken, and certainly Christ “changed the game” when he defeated sin and death on the cross for us. But Christ’s work on the cross was only a glimpse of what is to come. There will be a day when a new heaven and a new earth are ushered in; a world where there is no darkness because our light will come from God himself.
I don’t know much about practical solutions to the tragedies of this world, but I do know one thing; as cliché as it sounds, Jesus IS the answer! And not in policy or in platitude, but as the light that will enter in the hearts of those who are lost in the darkness making us new creations as we longingly wait for the day when sin and death, evil and tragedy, will be no more.