As a parent, and a Christian, I'm concerned about what's happening in the world today, following the latest school shooting in Florida. I bet you are too. Whether you have your own kids in school or not, the world is becoming more dangerous than ever.
Schools are where my daughters spend much of their time during the day. Clearly, what's happened in other places can also, and unfortunately, occur even in your own communities. That's scary, but I'm not writing this article to add more to the fear most parents, like you, already have.
The reason I'm writing these lines is to help you live fearless in spite of school shootings or any kind of violence that's happening in the world today. And, you can do it, as a Christian, by following the steps I layout below.
First, Understand The World
The reality of who we are, as humans, is that our instinct to respond to anything that happens is either fight or flight. That's who nature wants us to be, but it's not how God designed us to be.
God designed us to be more than conquerors (Romans 8: 31-28).
As an example, think about the promised land God had talked to Abraham about (Genesis 15:18-21). It wasn't an easy territory for them to acquire and inhabit.
When Moses sent twelve young men to survey this promised land, they came with the impression that it was a very dangerous and difficult place in which to live (see Numbers 13).
At least that's what ten out of the twelve said. But, Joshua and Caleb had a different report. They encourage everyone that in spite of how dangerous this place may be, we can live in it. Here's what they actually said:
Don't be afraid of the people in the land... The Lord is with us. So don't be afraid of them. Numbers 14: 9. ESV.
This world, which, you think, is so dangerous, is exactly where God wants you to live.
So, the world, which looks so scary and dangerous, is where God wants us to be in this present life.
This world is in crisis and at three levels: spiritual, mental and political. It's this crisis that makes it so dangerous and wild.
1. The World is in a spiritual crisis
The Bible reminds us that "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3: 23. ESV). The idea that we all are sinners points out the primary root of all evil that's taking place in the world.
It all started with Adam and Eve, according to Genesis. Sin disrupts order, balance and harmony. It breaks relationships between humans and God. It opens a door to:
- loss of purpose in life.
- lack of clarity.
- and more.
All the above describe the spiritual crisis, in which the world today is.
2. The World is in a Mental crisis
The spiritual crisis is at the root of the entire condition of the human heart. Every human being deals with sin from the time they're born to when they die. And, this spiritual crisis affects all other areas of life: mental, emotional, behavioral, relational, etc.
The second crisis our world today deals with is mental, which can come out of our spiritual crisis, a physiological disorder (in the brain), or any illness resulting into brain malformation. A way to describe this crisis could have to do with mental illness.
But, mental illness is only a small part of the problem, and doesn't represent or justify all evil actions in human behavior. In case you didn't know, overall violence, here in the U.S., as a result of serious mental illness, is only about 3%.
3. the world is in a Political crisis
The last crisis our world deals with has to do with policies around gun control. I won't get into politics here. That's not my desire, but I only wanted you to know that there's a lot of debate now as a result of gun violence.
The people in power at state and federal levels are the ones who frame the discussions regarding policies when it comes to gun control.
Also, remember that all those people in power, including the President, are there because you put them there. That's democracy, which means we affirm and choose who should be our leaders. At the state or federal levels, we have a divided house when it comes to gun control.
With all that in mind, now, let's talk about what you can do in response to everything bad in your community. For me, what you do about something is the next step after you've understood the problem. So, let's get right into that.
Second, you've got to do your part
Remember what I said earlier. You are wherever you live as a divine appointment! It may not be a great life or the way you wanted your current world to be. But, you're in your specific world with the crises, I mentioned above, for a purpose.
You've got a part to play in making your world less dangerous. Doing so helps you and other people no longer be afraid.
Now, you don't fear because, not only you understand that the world is in crisis, but more importantly because you know God has called you to serve the world in which you live.
Don't be only somebody who notices what's wrong with the world. But, be a person who folds their sleeves up to get to work and make the world a better place. Be someone who will help others live with no fear because the world is less dangerous, as a result of what you do.
In other words, when you notice something wrong in yourself or around you (people or environment), you immediately know that God's calling you to action. This attitude eradicates fear and empowers you to help resolve any kind of crisis.
Here are ways to consider, which will help you live fearless, as a result:
1. Help people who are in a spiritual crisis
As I said it earlier, lots of people live with the following:
- loss of purpose in life.
- lack of clarity.
- and more.
You can help people in spiritual crisis on your own or as a community. Either way will require to do two primary things:
I look at prayer, more of as a way to connect with God. Being a Christian means that we belong to God's priesthood (1 Peter 2: 9).
- A priest is someone who stands between God and the people. That's your role as an intercessor for our schools, teachers, students and school staff.
- A priest is someone who stands between the people and powers of darkness. A lot of times, we tend to ignore that life is also about spiritual warfare. The Bible talks about that in a few places, especially in the New Testament. Read Ephesians 6: 10-18.
Prayer should be on your personal calendar as well as your Church's calendar. Know the prayer warriors in your community and join them. Also, invite new people in this movement to pray for schools, teachers, students and everyone else wherever you live.
Discipling, to me, is more than just inviting someone to Church: worship, bible study or youth group. It entails more than just an invitation where we want others to be.
It is first and foremost the choice a disciple, like you and I, make to step out and join someone else on their life journey. Jesus embodied all of that.
Choosing to join someone on their walk is so powerful that it can help change directions in life. Look, for example, at the story about the two disciples on the walk to Emmaus (Luke 24). They were going away from Jerusalem, the place where Jesus commanded everyone to stay and wait for the promise (Acts 1).
They were in spiritual crisis, not knowing what to do. They'd given up on their new belief system grounded in Jesus' teachings, God's Word. But, when Jesus joined them on their journey, away from the right place, they would become able to solve their spiritual crisis and return to Jerusalem to do good.
Now, imagine you choosing to disciple just one person. Also, imagine this becoming a movement in your Church and community. What impact will you make, as individuals and a community of believers!
2. Help People who are in a Mental crisis
Even though mental illness can become a disturbing topic to talk about, especially in adults, you and your Church should be aware that it's your calling to address it.
I don't how much, as an individual, you can do. Nor do I know specifically what you as a Church can do about it.
However, I would suggest the following:
- Start with children and youth who are dealing with mental illness in your Church and community. For example, you could send around a prayer concern form for people to fill out if they know someone with mental illness. Don't only take names and add them to your Church's prayer list. Set time aside during the week to pray for these people by name.
- Make resources available. Have names of professionals (counselors, etc.) in the community for your people to go to in case they need professional help.
- Encourage mentoring. Most of our Churches have this as a part of Confirmation only. You could also open it up to your community and school.
3. Help the world in its Socio-Political crisis
Advocate for anything that eradicates violence of any form. Stand for everything you feel is right according to the Bible. Support through your local, state and federal leaders ideas that help eradicate violence of any kind.
Join the leadership team. Do it in your community or at the state level. You can also join the team at the federal level. In the Bible, God anointed (set aside or called) people to be kings. God may have called to serve in higher offices in your community, at the state or federal levels. If you feel God's calling you to do it, talk to your Pastor for further discernment.
bringing it together
The world is dangerous, but that doesn't mean you've got to live in fear. You're fearless when you understand why the world is the way it is now. You should also live fearless because you're an active member of your world, and that you can also bring about change.