I wasn’t going to post about the recent school shootings that we’ve endured as a nation these past few weeks, but here I am.
I wasn’t going to post about them because I just don’t think I can anymore.
When I look down at my son, when I drop him off at school, I don’t think of him as in danger, or as a target.
But I guess we’re starting to these days, right? I mean we’re talking about more armed guards in schools, we’re talking about lock-down procedures and evacuation routes not just for fire, but also for “live-fire” scenarios.
And I guess now we’re talking about bulletproof blankets to cover my baby should someone come shooting up his school.
In Isaiah 11:6-9 we find a vision for a new Earth, and it doesn’t look like like my son huddled under a bulletproof blanket.
And it doesn’t look like my son cowering behind an armed guard with a gun, a teacher with a gun, or even he himself holding a gun.
In that day, “The wolf will lie down with the lamb, the leopard with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child shall lead them.” In verse 8 it gets even better, “the infant will play near the cobra’s den, and a young child will put it’s hand in the viper’s nest.”
The problem with that day is that we don’t think it’s today. The problem with that day is that we think the prophet is talking about animals. And, I guess, in a way he is because he’s talking about the created order, the whole created order, being turned on it’s head.
But primarily, though, the prophet is talking about people. Humans. You and me.
And the prophet is talking about creation not living in fear, even in natural fear. It would be natural for the goat to fear the leopard, the child the viper. But in the world that has “knowledge of God,” even that kind of fear isn’t needed.
Because God is doing a new thing.
See, here’s the problem I have with armed guards, with armed teachers, with armed citizens, and with something as ridiculous as bulletproof blankets: it buys into the fear.
If the day of the Lord is to eradicate fear, then why do we belabor under the wrong assumption that we must continue to purchase it? This youth at Reynolds High School was obviously hurting and sick. I do not believe he was a monster. You don’t have to be a monster to do monstrous things.
But his parents were law-abiding citizens with a closet full of guns. Why? Recreation? Collection? Sport?
It doesn’t really matter now, because in the end they were saved for a mass shooting.
And the remedy to that, I think and believe, is not to buy more guns, is not to buy more kevlar, is not to arm more people.
The remedy for that is, I think and believe, to take the prophet seriously and believe that today is the day when the world is filled with the knowledge of the Lord. And I don’t take that to mean that everyone is Christian. I don’t take that to mean that everyone thinks the same things.
The “knowledge of the Lord” is not the ability to recognize God, it is the ability to trust as God trusts.
And how does God trust? In the Jesus story, God trusts the power of life and resurrection enough not to repay hurt with hurt, but to bathe in love and forgiveness. I mean, what would it look like if we raised our children not with a closet full of semi-automatic guns and hand guns, even if we teach them to respect guns, but rather with a closet full of the belief that semi-automatic guns aren’t necessary in this world.
They aren’t necessary to have a good time, they aren’t necessary to obliterate targets, they aren’t necessary for common citizens.
They just aren’t necessary.
We need to excavate fear, dig it up like Indiana Jones, and reveal it for what it is: an idol we’re being forced to worship these days.
It’s obvious these people need mental help. But they also don’t need easy access to weapons. And I don’t think that’s an either/or situation. It’s a both/and.
But I really expect the carillon cry on this issue to come from the church, to come from Christians. I really expect it to come from people who look at Jesus and see someone who didn’t repay evil with evil. I really expect it to come from people who hear stories every damn week about the Jesus who healed the sick, even the mentally sick. We need to provide that care. And I really expect it from people who every year hear the story of how Jesus told Peter to put his sword away. “The one who lives by the sword, dies by the sword…”
I really expect it to come from those who would wonder what it means to hold a weapon with no other purpose in the world than for the killing of another human being, a being created out of love by the God who creates all things for joy and good. Licensed police officers, military officers, they all consider that question…at least, I hope they do if they take their work seriously. We, as a society, have called them to that office, and it’s not one to be taken lightly.
Certainly not one to be taken “recreationally.” We have licensed law enforcement, and give them licenses, for a reason. Part of that reason is, I think, because they take it seriously enough to honor the responsibility. I don’t think the average citizen does, and we’ve shown that by having these “open carry” situations throughout the country now…that, in and of itself, is a sign of mental health issues, I think.
And look, with all this talk, I’m not even talking primarily about gun control. Gun control has not worked well in Chicago. I’m all for it, but do I think it will save my baby? No. This is a complex issue. But the church doesn’t just need to condemn the shooting, they need to condemn the situations that led up to the shooting: mental health, easy access to semi-automatic weapons…
And we need to condemn the fact that too many of the “faithful” in this world don’t trust that the Earth can be full of the knowledge of the Lord if they would just live into it.
I’m talking about changing the hearts and minds of this world to realize that the day of the Lord is today.
And it was yesterday…we just didn’t trust it enough to live into it.