Some of us are old enough to remember the
first hijacked airliners. Terrorists, or those emotionally unbalanced, would
smuggle weapons on board a plane, and while it was mid-flight take over, make
demands, and threaten to start killing passengers and crew.
To adjust to this new reality, passengers
were screened before takeoff to make sure the crew and passengers wouldn’t be
Then came 9/11 when airliners weren’t
hijacked to make demands, but simply to inflict maximum loss of life and damage
to property. This new reality required even more rigorous airport screening and
the advent of the Transportation Security Administration.
Now we are in the midst of another cultural
shift: shooters on the loose in schools, nightclubs, theaters, churches, music
concerts. Thoughtful people are suggesting solutions both realistic and
unrealistic. Welcome to our new reality.
Deliver Us From Evil
Anyone who doubts the existence of evil need
look no farther than those with automatic weapons and irresponsible amounts of
ammunition who go after vulnerable and unprotected targets. City streets and
sidewalks become battlefields with pedestrians as casualties and motor vehicles
The temptation in situations like these is to
become reactionary: the answer is more guns; the answer is fewer guns; all immigrants
are either potential terrorists or gang members. In fact, an intractable
problem such as random, senseless violence is not solved by phony, simplistic
Over the past 2,000 years Christianity has
been guided by principles, which, if more perfectly practiced, would make this
world a better place to live. The golden rule—“Do to others what you would have
them do to you” (Matt. 7:12)—is a great place to start.
We live in a society increasingly segmented:
those with guns, those without guns; those with money, those who are financially
desperate; those who have access to healthcare, those who don’t; those who are
native-born, those who are immigrants. Many people, even Christians, have a
hard time imagining the desperation and hopelessness experienced by large
segments of our population.
And a shockingly high number of people in both
public and private sectors seem ready to capitalize on those differences and
use them for political gain. But the gospel teaches us to look at others using
the same lens with which we see ourselves. In fact, Jesus said that the way we
treat others is a barometer of how we would treat Him (see Matt. 25:31-46).
Our new reality forces us to undertake more
extreme security measures in our schools, churches, concert halls, and athletic
fields (with many already in place). But we should never allow the threat of
evil incarnate to force us to lay down our weapons of Christian love, mercy,
and grace, and its quest of justice for all.
Evil is real. Danger is real. But for
Christians the answer is not “let’s get them before they get us.” Our mandate
is to represent kingdom values without fear. The promise is ours to claim:
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you
are with me” (Ps. 23:4). That’s a reality just as real as evildoers with guns.
Chavez has been a proud member of Sligo Church for nearly a quarter of a