Colorado & Penn State – How Should We Respond?

On July 25, 2012 by Eddie

With our vacation last week and a busy few days, I haven’t written anything about this, but it’s been a pretty rough time in the news headlines. The stories coming out of Aurora, Colorado are grim and haunting, and as my wife and I have heard them unfold we’ve not quite known how to respond. At the same time, news of the Freeh report and the details of the Penn State scandal began to emerge and we felt even more disillusioned, wondering how something so negligent and harmful to innocent children could happen. More than that, what are we as the people of God supposed to say and do in response to it?

The interesting thing is, the most natural response is not the best in this situation. Naturally I want to react instantaneously with judgement and cries of outrage. I want to talk passionately about whether or not the Penn State punishment is “fair.” I want to engage in vigorous debate over gun control and the moral structure that led to the Aurora shootings. There is a deep sense in me that something has gone horribly wrong and needs to be fixed. That sense is in all of us, and it is a God-given inclination, a remnant of being made in the image of God and being removed from the perfection of the garden all those years ago. There will be a time for those discussions, and hopefully good things will come from the public outrage over things so fresh in our minds and on our collective conscience.

But I’m beginning to realize that it may not be the time for cries of revenge or debate that divide us as people and stir up more hatred. I think if Jesus was standing in the middle of all of this, he would say that the debate will come, and it should come, but for now it’s time to “mourn with those who mourn.” It’s time to simply look at the mess of the situation and try to embrace a fraction of the sorrow that is gripping the families in Colorado and Pennsylvania right now. It’s time to remember how destructive sin can be, and how sad the fallout is for all of us.

Who’s to blame? That’s a tough question. There are definitely individuals to blame, and their justice will come swiftly no doubt, as it should. But in a larger sense, don’t we all have a hand in this? Sin is the problem, and aren’t we all feeding that machine daily? Today, instead of trying to fix the problem through debate and anger, shouldn’t we be reaching out in sorrow to God and crying out for the day when the ultimate problem will be eliminated once and for all?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it has been hard for me to remember in the moment. This is a personal challenge, more than anything, but it’s also something I hope the church at large can embrace. What if we try, for today at least, to mourn with those who mourn when we are tempted to “fix” the problem? What if instead of calling the nation to referendum and change (which will come in due time), the American church called us to a time of mourning and sorrow for the lives and innocence that was lost. Maybe through our leadership, Christ would remind all of us that the hard path of sorrow is the best path to healing, which is what everyone in these situations truly needs.

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