So, once again in the wake of the horrific tragedy at Umpqua Community College, we will storm the gates of heaven asking God to be present, to move, to speak and to act on behalf of those who are suffering, will suffer and could suffer at the hands of the Enemy ruling and reigning in this community and others. And before God can speak to our hearts and bring conviction about how we perpetuate these occurrences by not building genuine relationships that address mental health and gun violence and press for policies informed by these relationships we are up off our knees and on to the next thing.
Followers of Jesus are really good at telling God what we would like for Him to do and horrible at hearing and obeying what He tells us to do. Especially when it comes to actually changing personal behavior that will drive social change if not outright upheaval.
The latest massacre in Oregon is sadly not isolated but just another domino falling in our marriage to prayerful inaction and our endless clinging to surface conversation and comfort of the status quo.
Our LoGOFF Movement to transform consumers to stewards suggests 4 P's to respond to this massacre and God forbid the next one.
Get by yourself or with a group you feel comfortable, grab your bible and journal and call on the name of the Lord. If you don't know how to pray, here's an interactive experience to help you out. And this includes taking to God all of our pain, confusion, anger, disgust, rage, sadness, jadedness and every other seemingly positive or negative thought, word or emotion we have. He is God and He is big enough to handle it.
Please pray alone AND in community before Our Father in Heaven, in the name of Jesus, filled with Holy Spirit with believers who desire likewise and non-believers who desire more than the status quo. Lament, confess, repent and listen to what God is saying because surely after you stop speaking and weeping God will not be silent. Hebrew and New Testament scriptures promise He will respond.
After you speak and LISTEN to God, evaluate ALL of the TIME, TALENT and MONEY that you have to offer back to God on behalf of those affected.
Could you educate yourself on how to break the stigma of those suffering from depression, PTSD and other forms of mental illness?
Could you spend more time talking with your friends and family members who suffer from mental illness?
Could you take the time educate yourself on the realities of gun violence in America?
Could you give $25/month to a ministry, fund or advocacy organization honoring those slain, attending to the needs of those living with the tragedy or working to stop the next one?
Could you volunteer your talents in organizing, accounting, communication or art to take an internship for a year, or join a local group pursuing the values you hear from scripture, prayer, and biblical teaching?
Look at ALL of the time, talent, and treasure before you (not just the EXTRA you THINK you have) and give it back to God because He gave it to you!
With the time, talent and treasure you brought to God, look for partners where you can leverage them for the poor, marginalIzed and oppressed - and then follow through! Just because someone doesn't respond to your email the first time or the link doesn't work or a secretary doesn't get back to you doesn't mean, "I must not be meant to do it." Just because something is hard doesn't mean God isn't in it. Justice is hard-work, long-term, and full of triumphs and tragedies alike. Our success is not in the progress but the obedience to the God who loves us.
After prayer, building relationships, and investing our time, talent and resources can we be adequately informed and formed to protest, petition and participate in political advocacy and activism necessary for systemic transformation. It is a theological impossibility to look at the whole of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation and claim that God does not want to renew every corner of Creation and bring the Shalom He intended. And those who propose otherwise, I would say are more married to power, privilege, money and comfort than pursuing the teachings of Jesus and nurturing his or her personal marriage to Christ. And therefore do not possess spiritual authority necessary to stand on principles that will end senseless violence around the corner and around the world.
I agree wholeheartedly with President Obama that thoughts and prayers are not enough. Though I would push and say that we are not actually praying because sadly our prayers are grossly one-sided if we are just leaving the man upstairs voicemails. We invite you to truly Pray, Partner, Purchase and Policy-shape so that personal, relational and systemic sin is met with people who seek personal, relational and systemic transformation redemption rooted in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.