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In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. shootings, there is a national debate raging about gun laws. Many have wisely pointed out, however, that changing gun laws alone won’t solve the problem.
Case in point. Even with some of the toughest gun laws of any city in the country, Chicago saw gun violence rise in November by a whopping 49 percent compared to Nov., 2011. Homicides in 2012 are up by 21 percent versus the first eleven months of 2011.
And so, the chorus of “Not just stricter gun laws, better mental health care!” has begun. Indeed, we can always do a better job looking out for the ‘silent sick’ among us through proper diagnoses and encouraging friends and loved ones to seek therapeutic support. Full disclosure … I’ve got a bevy of mental health patients in my family tree, and we’ve all benefited from great doctors and medications. It’s a tremendously good thing to support people who are facing mental issues.
Nonetheless, I believe we have to ask the question: What if the gunman’s issues weren’t in his head, but in his heart? Then what?
As a Christ-follower, I do believe that we were all created in God’s image and have the capacity to do incredible things here on earth. I also believe that ever since the very first humans, Adam & Eve, ate from that dreaded forbidden fruitcake, we’ve been born with this thing called a sin-nature and its capacity for harming others. And only God incarnate can resolve that problem, which is the very essence of Christmas. John 3:16 isn’t just a verse for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to wear under his eyes. It’s part of God’s love letter to the world, reminding us that He didn’t just send His Son to be a nice guy … He sent His Son because we needed Him to come and save us. We were each drowning and in desperate need of being rescued from our own hearts’ propensity for selfishness. As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, we’ve all messed up our lives. I love the way it’s worded in The Message: we’ve each proven “that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us.”
There’s a blog post getting a lot of traction right now from a woman who said, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.” My heart goes out to her and I commend her honesty. But if I’m honest with myself, I must admit, I am Adam Lanza. And I kinda think, we all are all Adam Lanza. No, I don’t own a gun (nor have I fired one — ever). And I’m not talking about harming others the way he did, but God’s word says harboring anger in our hearts is just as bad as murder. Ever been angry? Check.
Changing gun laws and improving mental healthcare alone can’t fix this global pandemic. It’s a heart problem, not just a head problem. A spiritual issue, not just a mental one. And spiritual problems need spiritual solutions. Only the divine power of God Himself can do that. At the end of the day, that is the message the world needs to hear.
“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” ~ John 3:19-21 (The Message).
Did you catch that? Again, “anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God’s light.” So this year, for those who know the True meaning of Christmas, let your God-light shine. Every single one of us needs it.