WHEN THINGS FALL APART
One recent broadcast suggested there had been more than 250 cases of mass violence in 2017. They defined mass violence as an incident where four or more people were killed in a societal incident. We can certainly recall some of the most recent incidents of horror: Sandy Hook elementary school, Orlando nightclub, and now Las Vegas is etched in our memory. While our country seems to have the most frequent incidents of violence, we are also very aware of violent acts in Britain, France, etc. Our illusion of safety has been shattered. In the Las Vegas incident, the shooter breaks all our stereotypes of the type of people who perpetuate this type of violence. He was male, Caucasian, successful economically, educated, and not part of either a political or religious group of fanatics. WHO SHOULD WE BE AFRAID OF NOW?
A CHRISTIAN VOICE
I think it is time for us to revisit some core Christian beliefs as they relate to peace and violence in our society. It is time for the church to re-examine what it means to be the church. These are some preliminary thoughts and questions to examine.
Many people think that violence can only be contained by counterviolence. What does it mean for the church that Jesus rejected that strategy? When one of Jesus’ disciples tried to use his sword to defend Jesus, Jesus said “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26z:52-53) Jesus had the power to overwhelm and defeat his enemies but refused to use it. Does the church have an alternate vision to offer the world?
TRUST AND OBEY
Let me suggest four points for reflection:
- Begin small. You don’t have to have a perfect solution for society’s problems before you begin to act faithfully. We are not the savior of the world. That role has already been filled.
- We build a loving community that declares by our behavior that love casts out fear. The world knows how to split, fight, and hate one another. What they need is an example of how to love, respect, and listen to each other.
- We don’t have all the answers and we need to probe together the wisdom of God contained in our Scriptures, prayers, and community and continually listen for hope.
- We act in the belief that Christ is not asleep and can still the storm. We need to act in faith and hope and begin with the world’s most vulnerable
Earlier this year I published a psychological thriller, Blessed are the Peacemakers, www.amzn.to/2i5JMat . It was my attempt to explore in the form of a novel how Christians can respond to the threat of violence.
Benefits for the Reader
- A psychological mystery thriller that explores our response to violence in our society.
- Shows the role of pastors in responding to violence in our society.
- Demonstrates the way faith works through human pastors who struggle with real issues in life.
- Illustrates how the church has a significant role to play in our society.
- Helps the reader think through complex issues while enjoying a good story.
- Offers a mystery that engages while stimulating fresh ways to think about the role of violence in our society.
- Suggests why violence is attractive to humans feel overwhelmed by the complexity of our world.
- Explores the relationship between violence and our hunger for transcendence.
- Provides an image of dignity for the role of pastoral leadership.
- Shows the interrelationship between faith, violence, humor, honesty, doubt, and human interaction in our church communities.
- Provides an image of healthy relationships in the midst of stressful challenges in life.