In the wake of the massacre of 19 students and 2 teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, desperation has turned into sorrow and agony to outrage. I’ve had several people ask me what I think will help prevent something like this from ever happening again. I was approached by one man who said, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” About two hours later another person asked why I don’t speak out against guns.
Two people, in the same community, on the same day, sharing their perspectives which couldn’t be further apart.
Where is the church in all of this? We should not sit idly by while people suffer. Philip Yancey once wrote, “`Where is God when it hurts?’ I have often asked. The answer is another question, `Where is the church when it hurts?’” (The Jesus I Never Knew, 233). We don’t have all the answers, but we have hope. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus to walk with those who experience the consequences of living in a fallen and broken world.
We come alongside the wounded with comfort and peace. We respond to tragedy with tears and presence—the presence of our Lord Jesus in and through us. But we also work proactively to ward off calamity whenever possible. We counsel and pray. We form relationships with the belief that isolation is the enemy’s tool for catastrophe.
By serving others, we serve Jesus. Mother Teresa once responded to a wealthy American visitor who could not comprehend her fierce devotion to the dregs of Calcutta. “First we meditate on Jesus, and then we go out and look for him in disguise” (idem.).
In no way am I trying to offer a trite, pastoral response to the horrific tragedy in Uvalde on May 24, but contemplation and service are a much-needed combination in response to the evils of our world. We do not contemplate on the presence of Jesus so much that we never encounter him in the real world. Nor do we serve so much that we lose sight of the reason for our service.
Let’s show the world a better way where one day swords will be beat into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4). One day the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, and the calf, the lion and the yearling together (Isaiah 11:6). One day the Kingdom of God will fully come bringing with it righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). But until that day comes, may we be ambassadors of this new Kingdom as we meditate on Jesus and then go out and look for him in disguise.