When I was a kid my family would occasionally watch old western movies and television shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and The Big Valley. I remember thinking the thought. Thank goodness we do not live in the type of a world where someone would pull out a gun and shoot people they do not even know. So, okay! You are probably asking the following: Good Grief what planet did you live on? For full disclosure I do live in the Land of Oz or Western Kansas. Then you might ask. Please isn't Dodge City the town where Gunsmoke supposedly took place? Well, yes! Call me sheltered or over protected because I was, but I grew up in an age and era where we had no worries of violence of that nature. I remember walking up and down the streets in Wichita, KS on Halloween trick or treating in our neighborhood. This is not even a remote possibility today unless parents know the neighbors well. I remember that kids in school got in trouble for chewing game, pulling silly pranks, or skipping school. I never had a fear that a student would walk in and start shooting his classmates.
We hear it on the news, destruction and violence all around us. What a sad state of affairs we face! Do we truly live in a country where people shoot at one another in a New York subway station as happened today? It is hard to comprehend. Then again 21 years ago on 9-11-2001 we had the worst foreign attack on our nation's soil ever! And do not forget on April 19, 1995 the worst domestic attack on our country rocked our nation with the Oklahoma City Bombing. Many of us have friends and loved ones who have walked through the horrors of trauma due to these violent attacks on our country. I, for one, lost a most wonderful friend in the OKC Bombing in Jill Diane Randolph- 105th body to be identified among the 169 who lost their lives on that day. Her life was a light of joy to all around her. Why?
Thank goodness no one suffered life threatening issues from the NY City Subway attack. this morning, April 12, 2022. The last I checked 29 were shot and 10 of these were in critical condition in NY City hospitals. Thanks to a jammed magazine in his gun, many lives may have been saved!
It is interesting that when we are personally close to an attack or know someone who is, we think much differently than we do when such attacks are far away from us. Somehow, we begin to believe we are invincible. Thinking about the massacre and war crimes that our Ukrainian brothers and sisters are experiencing seems so far away.- and our government is hesitant and yes, even afraid to get too involved. Yet, when we experience such violence, the world stops around us, and we believe everyone should care and come to our rescue.
I am saddened that there seems to be "no" good way out for the Ukrainians in dealing with Putin, the tyrant who is definitely convinced the world revolves around him and his agenda. We all must continue to pray and thankfully the Ukrainian army is now receiving more weapons from the UK and US.
Back to the situation in the US, I cannot help but ask the questions, where did we go so wrong and what can we do to improve the situation of violence in our country? Many democrats believe this comes in the form of "gun control." Many republicans believe we do not follow the "gun control" laws that are already in existence. What good will new laws do?
I have a suggestion. It is not new, many other people of faith have offered the same suggestion. Let's turn back to the Bible, the holy scriptures for a solution. Ezekiel 45:9 states, "Put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness." The Apostle Paul speaks to the attitudes we should adopt to avoid hate and evil in our world. In Romans 12:18-23, he shares this with the Christians in Rome, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
We cannot do any of this on our own. It takes the Holy Spirit of God living in our hearts as we continue to grow in faith. Jesus promised his Holy Spirit would guide his followers into all truth (John 16:13). Yes, the Holy Spirit works in the heart of Christ followers as we trust Him to lead and guide us. Paul shares in a letter to the church in Galatia to "walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). Paul continues to share the outcome of living by the leadership of God's Spirit- he calls it the fruit of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22, 23). Christians need to share this fruit with the world around us in order to be "salt and light" in the world today (Matthew 5:13-16).
No, we cannot guarantee that Christians can defeat all violence and evil in this world, but we can live in such a manner to share a better way. It is actually the only way to experience true peace and joy in this world and in the world to come! Unfortunately, the powers of darkness try to extinguish this light. One such power was the work of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair who worked diligently to remove prayer and Bible reading from our public schools and single-handedly succeeded by winning the Supreme Court Case, Abington School District v. Schempp, 1963. She did this to protect her son, William's atheistic views from mandatory prayer and Bible reading in a Baltimore public school. It is interesting to note that Madalyn Murray O'Hair disappeared along with another son and granddaughter in 1998. Finally, a disgruntled employee who had been fired for embezzlement from their family business led the police to the remains of the O'Hair family near Austin in 2001. In a miraculous reversal her son William became a Baptism and wrote several books about his experiences with his mother. One of his later books is entitled, "Let US Pray: A Plea for Prayer for Our Public Schools (1995), where he disavowed the famous 1963 Supreme Court Decision. One woman, Madalyn O'Hair used her influence for evil. This influence turned our schools into a mission field. Just think what a great influence Spirit-filled Christians can have in our society if we take a stand together as "salt and light." Let's work together in the bond of the Spirit to overcome evil with good in the midst of a very, dark world! This, my friend, is the best hope we have for a peaceful future.