Without question – the shooting in New Town, Connecticut yesterday is a profound tragedy – and casts a grim shadow over the season. The senseless end of so many young lives should provoke us all to pause and consider – again – why does this keep happening? What enrages some so much about life that they conclude to rebel against misery with misery?
There are today – all over the internet – comment after comment about “this happened because God’s not allowed in school.” While I would personally like more of God in school – as well as work, downtown, the park, my neighborhood etc. – I’m not sure that we’re all talking about the same thing.
At the risk of landing in a heap of trouble – I’m doubtful that the successful alteration of educational legislation to allow class-wide prayer, the 10 commandments, nativity scenes etc. would diminish this phenomena of violence. These things are the trappings of faith-filled lives – not the substance of them. I believe we need more of God-likeness everywhere in our lives – not more symbols. For instance – grieving with the families and members of Newtown – before knee-jerk grasping at a one-dimensional solution to a very complicated and serious problem – one that warrants prayer, fasting, earnest dialog – not platitudes.
Relying on legislation to force symbols of Christianity into classrooms – seems a futile fight against symptoms. The most powerful manifestations of Jesus we encounter are bound up in the faith-filled actions of those so moved by love for Him that they choose to model His teachings as much as they can in their actions. Against this inspirational witness no legislation can be written – and I’m saddened every time discussion of spiritual growth, or how to impact our communities for Christ turn towards discussions of how to legislate this or that Christian symbol into the public sphere. These battles – whether won or lost – seem to do more to increase resistance than increase the Kingdom.
In light of yesterday’s events I turn to my faith for comfort and I usually enjoy seeing crosses, the 10 commandments, nativity scenes and such in my community. When I look for ways to expand the reach of God’s Kingdom where I live – I look to Galatians 5:16-26 – and hope and pray that the choices I make, and the priorities around which I structure my life, and the conversations I engage in with others will lead those God’s put in my life to trust Him more. I fear a battle cry to fight to stuff symbols of God into schools where the rather the substance of God is needed will harm the Kingdom it’s intended to strengthen.