Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Take

It's been four days since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Four days, and I am still having trouble processing what happened there.

I'm bothered by many things. I'm bothered that someone killed 27 innocent people, the majority of them little children.

I am bothered that people blame one of the victims, the shooter's mom.

I'm bothered that people are turning this into an argument for atheism or for God's vengeance.

I'm bothered that people are turning this into an argument for gun control or for the second amendment.

I'm bothered that people are turning this into anything other than what it is: a horrible event that has dropped the bottom out of so many people's worlds.

I'm bothered that Facebook is yet again a place for inane narcissistic posting about what you ate, how far you ran, how great you are. And I'm bothered that it is also relegating this tragedy to another stupid, un-solvable political debate.

Tomorrow night is our church's youth group's Christmas party. I am to lead the youth in a devotion. What do I say?  "Merry Christmas, God loves you, let's pretend nothing horrific happened this week?"

No, I can't do that.

Instead, this is what I wrote:

In light of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and Christmas, which is a traditionally religious holiday even among the non-religious, God’s name is getting tossed around a lot. 

People are questioning why God allowed this, if there even is a God, and if there is a God, what kind of God He is.

To help you sort through the many conflicting opinions you are hearing, allow me to share one thought.

Please, do not equate BEING MORAL with BEING A CHRISTIAN. There is a difference between being a good person and being a Christian. Again, being a good person is NOT the same thing as being a Christian. 

Being “moral” means that you do “good things” and that you don’t do “bad things.” Of course, being moral is wonderful. 

Being a Christian means that you know that everyone sins. Everyone, not just murderers. Not just cheaters. Not just thieves. Not just liars. You. and Me. We’re both sinners, hopelessly lost and unworthy of redemption. It means that you know there is no one who is “moral.”

Some people say that America asked for this shooting because the choices we Americans have made lately, the movies we watch, the games we play, do not please God. These people imply that this is “God’s punishment” because we are not moral enough.

There is no place for that kind of talk in Christianity.

Hear me now: God is not able to be kicked out of schools simply because His name is left out of school assemblies. He is not uncaring enough to rain down a school massacre just because we don’t pray before lunch in our cafeterias. 

God is very much in our schools because He is in your hearts. God is not limited by our invitation, by our acknowledgement, or by our moral behavior.

I don’t know what you take away from this week’s tragedy. What I take away is that this world is not my home. This world is broken, is full of hurting people on both sides of the gun, and is desperate for love. 

I, for one, look forward more than ever to heaven’s restorative, reparative, comforting home.

It is a home with doors flung wide open for you, opened by someone who Himself saw His child born into such a broken world as this and witnessed His own son's massacre. THAT God, the one who still showers us imperfect people with love and hope, THAT God is the true God.