The very fact that we’re having arguments on social media about the importance or relevance of offering prayers in the wake of tragedy proves just how far we’ve fallen.
It’s incredibly stunning to consider that the automatic — and often sole solution — many turn to in the wake of tragedy is “gun control,” especially when the real issue at hand is so glaring that it’s practically blinding us all: we’re disconnected.
What do I mean by that? Well, the morals and values that once served as the central underpinnings of our society have gradually been pushed out of our spheres of influence, leaving a massive vacuum in their place.
We’re so distracted by what’s happening around us in our day-to-day that we’ve come to diminish, culturally speaking, the importance of our connection to God, his standards and the need for us to align our personal values with biblical truth.
Just consider that, as time goes on, polls show that fewer Americans are calling themselves religiously affiliated. And, more and more people seem to be mocking “thoughts and prayers” when they are offered in the midst of tragedy, as though sincere appeals to God for healing and diminished emotional pain are somehow worthless endeavors.
We’re being worn down. And, in the process, a spiritual apathy is unfolding, opening a gaping wound that many try to fill with all sorts of Band-Aid solutions. Among them? Proposed gun control laws and regulations that, when pushed without regard for the facts, do little more than cover up the deeper and more problematic wounds that plague us.
Now, before I continue: I’m not opposed to measures that would help prevent insane people from securing weapons, nor am I adverse to the conversations that can and must follow these events. These Band-Aids — like any good temporary remedy — help stop the bleeding and should certainly be discussed, considered and, when appropriate, implemented.
But Band-Aids aren’t cures to the deeper problems we face. Sure, they can be useful, but, unless you rein in the deeper, ever-festering disease, the problem will only metastasize, as we’ve been observing.
At our core, we have a spiritual crisis. Yet, rather than address that conundrum, too many people have increasingly been far too willing to make proclamations that gun control will remedy our ills — many times before all of the facts are in.
Again, a gun control discussion can and should be had, but unless we’re willing to have the more profoundly important conversation about the reality of good and evil and about the tragic reality that too many people are coming to reject truth and exchange it for their own whims, then we’re missing the mark.
Strictly proposing gun control measures while ignoring the “heart control” measures we so desperately need is akin to only treating a cough when someone is desperately in need of an antibiotic for a dangerous infection that has precipitated that bark. Sure, we can take away part of the problem, but little will be done to cure the overarching illness.
We need heart and soul control. We need culture control. We need self-control. There are plenty of other control measures that our culture is thirsting for; it all starts with the individual decision to embrace God and seek his heart — a personal choice that can yield wonderful results when partaken in by the collective whole.
Paul Buford, pastor of River Oaks Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas — a church that is just two miles from First Baptist Church, where Sunday’s horrific shooting — said it best when he was asked in an interview with MSNBC on Monday whether anything else, in addition to prayer, would prevent these traumatic shootings.
“I’m not sure we’re going to be able to stop those things, because the word of God tells us that we are gonna face trials and tribulations, that evil is out there, and it’s doing everything it can to attack,” Buford said. “We talk about it’s a gun issue, or we talk about a mental health issue. Well, as pastors and as Christians, we talk about it and say it’s not that; it’s a heart issue.”
He then went on to say that people are focusing on the world and not God, lamenting the state of affairs.
“If we were focused on the [God], then we wouldn’t be having those things,” he said. “We continue to push God out of our schools, out of our communities, out of our government.”
While he said that he wasn’t blaming the church shooting in particular on these things, he decried a broader reality that he believes too many people are overlooking.
“We’re in a spiritual battle, we believe, in this world. It’s evil against good,” he said. “Now, we know that good is gonna overcome that.”
Again, gun measures are fine to discuss and consider, but that’s only a Band-Aid. We need more God; we need more Jesus; we need healing. Let’s be better.