Like many of you, I watched with sadness, anger, and regret as school shootings continue to make headlines across our country. With two such incidences in the Pacific Northwest recently, these tragedies feel closer to home than ever before. East Hills has several Seattle Pacific alums here, and so we grieve and pray with them for what occurred at their school.
In the days and weeks to come, we will no doubt hear varied opinions aired, with great vehemence, about what should be done to curb the violence taking place in our schools. Tighter gun control! Heightened school security! Closed-access campuses! These ideas, and many others like them, all have merit and in some way might create greater safety for places of public education.
But this week, I find myself reflecting on the deeper issues of our society. What is happening in our humanity that this kind of violent action seems to be more and more the norm rather than the exception? Why do so many, especially young people, turn to aggression when life overwhelms them? While I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, I would like to share a brief thought along these lines. Could it be that we have created a flawed culture in which the ideals we teach inevitably lead to emptiness and a lack of fulfillment?
Our young people are taught today that life is a smorgasbord of opportunity just waiting for them to enjoy. The message the media teaches them is to fill their lives with good things, pursue pleasure, and prioritize immediate gratification; after all, it’s all about you . Everyone can have what they want, when they want, how they want. The downfall is that the proposed promises of these messages always come up empty. Stuff doesn’t lead to satisfaction. Pleasure doesn’t equate to real joy. Facebook friends and twitter followers doesn’t create true relationships and deep connection. And so, as a society, we are left wanting.
In Isaiah 55:1-2, the prophet declares, “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink- even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk- it’s all free! Why spend money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.” Our society seems to be gorging itself on food that doesn’t satisfy. And when we come up empty and alone, violence is increasingly the answer.
So I believe with all my heart that Jesus is still the hope of the world. Because for all our western culture can give- possessions, techy toys, cool cars, and frappuccinos- culture hasn’t figured out how to give us what we most need. Only God can meet us in the deep hunger of our souls.
How will our society be changed? How will gun violence be curtailed? When people come to God to satisfy their true hunger, the world will be changed. It starts with me and you; making sure that we find our joy and satisfaction in Him. And having tasted the goodness of the Lord, we share this message. We look to be light in dark places. We point others to the only source of lasting joy and peace. And the more that people are pointed to Christ, the fewer guns that will be pointed at others. May it be so.