(NOTE: I have edited this post several times to remove what may have been considered objectionable content. I am appalled by the violence we see daily, but primarily see it as a spiritual issue. Please read further for more explaination.)
Did you know that another school shooting occurred yesterday? Of course we are saddened and shocked as our hearts go out to all of those who are now affected by this tragedy. Or we could be numb to it by now – yesterday a public school, tomorrow a shopping mall, next weekend a worship gathering or nightclub, or any day in a parking lot. But the statistics on mass shootings pale when compared to the numbers of individuals murdered on a daily basis.
So we could outlaw the guns and look into knife control too. Don’t forget scissors, knitting needles, and number 2 pencils. We could also eliminate the video games that give opportunity to rehearse scenarios of violence and murder a thousand times to proficiency levels. And then let’s sanitize all movies and other media that depict graphic violence which desensitizes viewers to the horror that it is.
But wait. Haven’t you heard that we can’t legislate morality? We can’t even succeed at teaching kids in school to stop bullying and be nice to each other. None of those solutions will ever completely solve the problem of violence.
You’re apt to hear these acts called evil, and they are. But it’s rare to hear them labeled as they really are: sin, because the problem isn’t entirely an external one. The real issue is internal – it’s a matter of the heart. I thought we Christians believed in the power of God to change lives. We Methodists have a mission statement: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Maybe it’s easier to have faith in the transformation of the world than to believe our children’s hearts and minds can be transformed if they become born again, new creatures in Christ.
Historically, there have been some great spiritual revivals that started among young people. Many of us remember the Jesus Movement of the 70s which had far reaching effects. My fervent prayer is for revival in our communities that truly changes hearts and transforms lives. That’s not the same thing as a scheduled series of nightly sermons by Rev. Evangelist So-and-so who’s invited to preach at your church, although it could be. I’m talking about a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit that falls on individuals in unmistakable ways. It moves people to repentance and gives an assurance of the forgiveness of sins. It could be within or outside the walls of our congregations, through any catalyst the Lord chooses to touch young lives. It will take a mighty move of God to heal angry and hurting hearts and to redirect our youth away from revenge and violence.
Zechariah 4:6 … Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
The new babes in the faith will need congregations to welcome them and nurture them. They will need mature believers who can mentor them in their faith walk and teach the Scriptures. They need adults who aren’t afraid of youthful exuberance. They don’t need folks trying to control the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
What if this revival created a positive peer pressure that renovated the school’s climate and culture? What if the bold testimony of these youth had a transforming effect on their entire community?
2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 1. Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, 2. and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. 3. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
As we see the news of tragedy with such regularity, are we desperate enough yet to cry out to God for help? He is our hope and our salvation. Only He can transform hearts.
Pray for a great awakening.