First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:1-4 BSB)
There will always be a great need for reasonable and peaceful people in the world — and this need will increase the closer we get to the return of Christ.
I am writing this from my son’s house in Chicago, Illinois, USA, after a weekend of violence in America, one against a Jewish community in New York and another against a Christian church in Texas, both having peaceful meetings of worship. Though the details are still coming in, it appears in both circumstances mentally ill persons attacked them and were subdued or later captured. After it is all said and done, I believe at this point that what will be revealed with be two conflicted individuals and two complicated circumstances, and that no one single solution will emerge that could have prevented these tragedies.
The problem is that one person may complain about a religion he is suspicious about, or does not agree to, and that is just the exercise of free speech. But a mentally ill person overhears his words and decides to attack innocent people who are doing him, or anyone else, any real harm. Of course I have simplified this multi-faceted and multi-layered process.
So perhaps the question is how does it go from one person’s expression of dislike to another person’s act of murder? And, for our purposes, what persons could have been involved in this “multi-faceted and multi-layered” process. The first question can be answered by mere observance and does not need much comment: a culture that is covered in violence, video games and popular music that glorify violence and dehumanize certain people, divorce and the breakup of homes, the rise of mental illness and the misunderstanding of common people in society getting involved in helping the mentally ill, etc.,
The second can be and should be more clearly emphasized. At any point along this trail people of peace could have stepped in and disrupted the process. Peacemakers are essential in every age and that is one thing we can all do. Rather than preach the false “gospel” of violence, we can share the true gospel of Christ and act out its love and understanding. Of course, this is already going on or we would have more and more acts of random violence.
So in response to these events, we should not react in anger but in compassion and grace. God said above that His desire is that “we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.” To sit down and explain how to treat people with dignity and respect, and how we should protect the innocent, as well as deal appropriately with the truly dangerous, is what keeps society safe.
And pray! In light of these acts we should thank God that they happen so rarely here in the West, and pray that they happen not at all. We need wisdom, not more angry rhetoric, but understanding and wise actions. Would to God that Christians would pray more for elected officials, for government workers, for policemen and policewomen who protect us. Prayer is an unseen but very real power to prevent these acts.
We should recognize the quick and brave actions of those who stopped both acts of violence, those who arrested the men in New York and those who stopped through gun fire the murderer in Texas. In both circumstances that was the appropriate use of strong measures to protect the innocent. But these acts by legitimate heroes were not the same as those of the perpetrators who merely wanted to hurt others.
My thoughts. Blessings to you all.