Who among us is not appalled at the insane violence that stalks our land? Even a casual shopping day for school supplies at a local Walmart can turn deadly. Twenty people killed Saturday in El Paso. Nine more gunned down on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.
There is no pattern. Each horrific scene seems random, illogical and insane, whether it is a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, a concert in Las Vegas, a movie theater in Colorado, a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas or 22 school shootings this year. The only things they seem to have in common are guns and grief. Agonizing grief that lasts a lifetime. According to CBS, there have been 251 mass shootings in the U.S. in only 216 days this year. As Lester Holt stated in the aftermath of this weekend’s killings, “This is not normal.”
The news soon moves on to the next topic, briefly, until returning to report another crime scene where innocent children, mothers, fathers and grandparents lay in blood stained aisles, hallways and classrooms. When will it stop? Why does it happen?
It only takes a generation to lose our moral moorings. As faith diminishes in the marketplace, as children grow to adulthood without the values taught in our churches, we are all likely to become victims. We have drifted away from the teachings of the Bible and lost our value for human life. Increasingly we judge one another by the color of our skin, our language, accent, dress and culture.
Jesus turned the tide in a violent generation 2,000 years ago. He did so by turning conventional wisdom on its head: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). He did so by teaching us to value every human life: “You have heard that that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder.’ And ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother is guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell” (Matt. 5:21-22). He did so by embracing the outcast, loving the unlovely and accepting the unacceptable. He turned the tide of violence by entrusting himself into the violent hands of his accusers and suffering innocent death on the Cross.
Every generation must turn the tide of violence. Every generation must relearn the lessons Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. We are in desperate need of something we have lost from generations who have gone before. We must rediscover a faith that transcends prejudice, fear, hatred and violence. In every home, every school, every market place, we must practice and teach the truth of Christ.