Saturday, December 22, 2012

Who is Really to Blame for Newtown, CT?

It has been just over a week since the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Hard to imagine the mind of an individual who would break into an elementary school and brutally murder 20 1st grade students as well as the school principal, several teachers, teachers aids and other staff. All this after he 1st murdered his own mother. As you would expect, this has been a huge topic on the news ever since. It has also been the top topic on social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Everyone is trying to make sense of the senseless, but you know what? That can’t be done, you can’t make sense of a senseless act and any attempt to do so would be futile.

Another thing we have seen a lot of is a search for where we place the blame. Many have pointed their fingers at an American society that puts very few limits on guns. Their feeling is that if we put tougher restrictions on gun ownership, these things will not happen. Others, on the opposite end of the spectrum, believe that had the school principal been armed when she went out to confront the assailant, it could have ended right there. There are some religious leaders who point a finger at a society that has systematically removed God from the schools, from the work place, from anywhere that is considered a public place but is not a place of worship. And yes, there are many who place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the politicians. They believe that politicians that no longer seem to have any desire to work together on any front have led our country down the tubes. Nothing gets done because partisan politics in this country has died and drug this country down to the grave with it. The moral compass of our politicians on every side of the political spectrum has so decayed that the citizenship they have been charged with leading has followed their lead and thus the country, as a whole has no moral compass. There are fingers pointing in other directions as well. It seems each side has passionate arguments, and to a certain degree there appear to be valid points for each consideration.

Like much of the rest of this country, I have struggled greatly with what took place on Friday, December 14, 2012. I have also struggled with who to blame. As I stated earlier, I suppose that to a certain degree, each of the areas discussed above have some merit when it comes to blame. But could it be that the lion’s share of the blame lies somewhere else entirely? As I have thought about it over the past several days, my mind keeps going to the same area for who is ultimately to blame. Please understand that it really pains me to write this, but I believe that the church is to blame. That’s right, the church. By the church, I want to clarify exactly what I am talking about. I am not talking about any specific church, nor any specific denomination. That being said, I do want to be a little more specific. The church I am referring to is the evangelic church as a whole. That group of individuals, nationwide, that profess to be Bible believing Jesus followers. We have put our faith and trust in Jesus, rarely miss a Sunday and are even in the habit of serving in some capacity.

Perhaps as you read this you are thinking to yourself, these folks sound like they are pretty sharp individuals, how could they possibly be blamed? Allow me to answer your question with a question. What are we, as Bible believing Jesus followers called by God to do? Yes, I understand that we have been given several directives, but I would like to highlight 2, 2 directives given by God to us that, if we follow whole heartedly, have the potential to make such an impact that it may even stop our own Newtown, CT experience. So what are these 2 directives? Well let me show them to you, lets look at Luke 10:25-37. I’m pretty sure you will be very familiar with this story. It is The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

While the lawyer asked Jesus “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answer was to give him a vivid picture of what a real neighbor looks like. After giving him that picture Jesus simply asked; “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”

So what does this parable have to do with Newtown CT? As I am in the habit of doing, let me follow that question with another question. A pretty telling question, and in my own case a pretty convicting question. Actually the question has already been asked, it was asked by the lawyer who was addressing Jesus in Luke 10:25-37. And who is my (your) neighbor? Who are your neighbors? What do they do enjoy doing with their free time? What are they like? What are the chances they would knock on your door if they really needed someone to talk to? Ok, I get it; this wasn’t 1 question but several questions. The point is, if the majority of us were to answer this question honestly, we don’t really know the answers to most of those questions. When we arrive home from work, or shuttling the kids around, or from our errands or…….or from church. We push the button to open the garage and before we are out of the vehicle the garage door is on its way down. We relax on our back deck rather than a front porch. Sure, most of us may not have a front porch, but to be truthful, chances are even if we had a front porch we would still go to the back deck. We like our privacy. But there is a problem with this. God has not called us to be saved into seclusion. He has called us to be saved into the mission field. The “Jerusalem” Jesus is referring to in Acts 1:8 for us, is right where we live. Not just our neighborhoods, it where we work, where we go to school, the places we go for recreation. It’s where we live out our lives’ on a day to day basis.

Let’s go back to Newtown, CT. What do you suppose are the chances that Adam Lanza had people in his neighborhood that were Bible believing Christians? Let’s not limit this to just his neighborhood. Really, shouldn’t we include others he came in contact with on a regular basis? Now let’s go back to you and me, our “neighborhood”. Could there be an Adam Lanza living near us? I would imagine that if each of us really put some thought into it, we could come up with someone who is similar in a lot of ways to Adam Lanza; quiet, a loner, sort of strange, maybe a little backward. We have seen them walk by our house a few times, usually we kind of turn the other way, or go back inside the house or garage, pretend to be busy doing something, anything, anything but smile and say “Hi” or “How’s it going?” They kind of scare us, perhaps rightly so. But is that how God has called us to react? Much of the time Jesus seemed more at home with the sinners than He did the religious. It also seemed the sinners gravitated towards Him, but not because He did what they did, not at all. It was because He accepted them, He loved them. He didn’t look down His nose at them, didn’t mumble under His breath about them or think to Himself, “What a loser!”

In our circles, you can’t be much more of a loser that The Woman At The Well. She was a half breed who had lost count of how many men she had slept with. She was filth through and through, but before Jesus was done with her she was clothed in His righteousness. Shouldn’t that be our desire for the Adam Lanza’s God brings us into contact with? I know, we may not be able to reach them no matter how hard we try, but shouldn’t we at least try? What a fool David was to go to battle against a giant who was covered in body armor, had a sword, shield and spear, when David had nothing more than a sling and 5 stones…… But you know what? David knew that the God whom he served could direct his stone to the perfect spot. He didn’t approach Goliath in fear and trembling, he ran towards him like a man possessed. Guess what, he was a man possessed. The Bible tells us that David was a man filled with the Spirit of God…..he was a man possessed. Don’t we serve the exact same God? So since we do, let’s start serving Him fully and making a difference in our “neighborhoods”.

We have got to get to the point where we stop searching for who to blame when things happen like what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT and start, as individual believers, taking responsibility to do whatever it takes so that when Jesus looks our direction He can say of us that we have proven to be a neighbor. Who knows what God may do through our willing and available hearts? We could very well be an important tool in the hands of the Master Craftsman that changes a life destined for utter destruction into a life of eternal significance. We may be the one used of God to stop a potential Adam Lanza, not with a gun, or our religion, or our political stance, but with the unconditionally love of Jesus Christ that is flowing through us.

Jim Canady

Perhaps you don’t struggle in the areas I addressed below. To be honest, this was written as much to me as it was to anyone else. However, if what I wrote struck a chord with you. Let’s do some brainstorming now. What can we do to do better? What are some steps we can take? I know for me and my family, we need to purpose in our hearts to make a difference in our “Jerusalem”. That place where God has placed us. What about you, I would love to hear your thoughts. Jim

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