A Gut-Level Response to Umpqua

Lord Have Mercy, Surely We Can Do Better...

“God will judge between the nations,
and settle disputes of mighty nations.
Then they will beat their swords into iron plows
and their spears into pruning tools.
Nation will not take up sword against nation;
they will no longer learn how to make war.”

Isaiah 2:4

The news out of Umpqua Community College in Oregon today is beyond heartbreaking. I am normally one to sit and think and pray before responding to something. I normally don’t publicly share my first thoughts and opinions, because I like to take time to process and refine my thoughts and allow things to take shape and form in my heart and my mind. But 45 school shootings in the last 9 months seems like an ample amount of processing. FORTY-FIVE TIMES a firearm has been discharged at a school this year in the United States. I watch my boys walk into school every morning, hoping and trusting that they will be safe there, but all the while knowing in the back of my mind that as we’ve seen again today, there’s no guarantee. So, while I’m reacting out of fear and emotion and sadness, I will hold true to the fact that this simply must stop. It simply. must. stop.

For those on both sides of the political arena, it’s time to stop arguing with each other about what won’t work to stop this and to come together to decide what will. The time for heated rhetoric and political grandstanding with no action passed a long time ago. Stop digging your heels in to your ideology. Stop the name calling and the fear-mongering. All people who own guns aren’t evil. All people who advocate for tighter gun-control aren’t conspiring for a government takeover. Stop refusing to listen to people with whom you disagree for fear that they may have a valid point that’s contrary to your opinion and you may actually come to change your mind. The “all or nothing, my way or the highway” approach is obviously not working. This can’t continue. Lord, have mercy.

For followers of Jesus, this isn’t a political issue, as in “what does my preferred political party or action group say about this?” On the day we gave our allegiance to Jesus, we gave it to someone who transcends partisan politics.

For followers of Jesus, this isn’t an issue of constitutional rights, as in “I have the right to do x,y,z because the constitution gave me those rights, and you can pry those rights out of my cold, dead hands.” On the day we decided to follow Jesus, we agreed to give our lives and our rights over to one who rises above constitutional law and authority.

Truth be told, I’m not sure Jesus is all that interested in pleasing the action group that will decide whether or not to fund my reelection campaign based on how I respond to this tragedy, either by saying “It’s not our fault” or “See, I told you so.” I’m not sure that Jesus cares all that much about either the expression or infringement of my second amendment rights.  Instead, I think Jesus is weeping with families who needlessly lost their loved ones today. Parents whose kids were senselessly gunned down. Kids whose parents had decided to go back to school to give their families a better life and will now never come home to them again. Teachers who gave of themselves week in and week out for peanuts in pay because they were filled with hope about what their students could become who will never have the chance to inspire another student.

Call me naive. Call me an idealist. Call me a Pollyanna. Call me unAmerican. Honestly, I don’t really care what you call me as long as this wheel of senseless violence stops spinning. I choose to believe that God will get in the end what God wants: that as the prophet Isaiah says people will indeed beat their swords into iron plows, and their spears into pruning tools. That neither nation nor individual will take up sword or knife or gun against another nation or group or individual. And as a follower of Jesus, I choose to work and pray and act as if that day can come to be in this day. I choose hope. I choose peace. I choose love. I choose to believe in what’s possible for humanity. The alternatives don’t seem to be working, so what do I have to lose?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “A Gut-Level Response to Umpqua

  1. Travis
    Thanks for your article
    You are correct … it is time for us to end arguing but to find some common grounds sand seek solutions. The call to conversation about various issues has been suggested many times over the past few years but it followed by a SILENT thud followed by a renewal of rant. We rant, I certainly rant…. And we are stuck…

    We know how to yell and scream and rant and make our case to win but we all keep losing. In a culture where win-lose and adversarial government and legal system I despair honestly because this is the air we breath but as a Christian I hold onto a greater hope that came in Jesus that promises that barriers can be overcome and the new take root…

    We don’t frankly know ow to talk with each other …. to cell pones yes…. text yes…Facebook yes …but face to face conversation and face to face conversation with others who we disagree with NOOOOOO!

    Wen you talk about learning to have real give and take and to have to compromise and actually try things that we might not heartily and fully agree. And to realize that solutions don’t appear immediately and perfectly and that first tries may not work and that unintended stuff results from the most honestly well thought out may not work

    The price of racism, greed, religious intolerance in in