I’m sure that you’ve noticed this trend in the news. Shootings! Shootings every week for the last few months. There has been some American killed by gun violence so frequently lately that you have to scroll down the news websites now to find these things that used to be the top stories.
American citizens, like you and your neighbors and coworkers are getting in arguments about parking spaces, or fast food orders and one of them is pulling out a gun and murdering people over a parking space!
I know that we are in a 2nd amendment hot bed. Let me assure you that I don’t see this as a gun problem. People in Europe are stabbing people to death. The weapon is not the problem. The problem is a lack of value for life. A lack of self-control. It is a sin problem.
I am thrilled that my children have recently aged out of the toddler stage of development. But I can’t help but be reminded of their temper tantrums as I read the news. Something small happens, like a cereal box gets turned so one child can read the back and not the other and that child who feels slighted is in hysterics. He or she is crying, maybe screaming, maybe flopping around on the floor over a cereal box! This is called a temper tantrum. We’ve all seen them. I’m sure decades ago we all threw our share of them.
There is a disconnect between the feelings of this kid and the reality and gravity of the situation. The selfishness and self-centeredness of the child has boiled to the surface so that nothing reasonable matters, and only their feelings of injustice and anger matter to them.
How else could we describe a person who chooses to end the lives of multiple people because they were asked to move a shopping cart, or put on a face mask, or any other completely inconsequential issue? Americans are dying because of a national pandemic of temper tantrums.
Grown men and women who have lost all sense of what is right and appropriate, who have lost all sense of how to be a part of society, who have lost all sense of the value of life, and have even lost the sense of what punishment is worth enduring for your own sense of justice. These people are killing us!
So what am I saying? What can we possibly do about this?
We need to get beyond the matter of looking for who we can blame. We need to get beyond the search for some quick simple solution. It doesn’t exist. We need to start growing up as a culture. We need to expect maturity from ourselves and in our relationships. We need to speak to the value of life. We need to honor the rights of those people around us who we find most upsetting. Our freedom in this country is only real when the freedom of those around us is favorable to us, but we affirm and defend it anyway.
This nation, and this world, need to grow to know God and understand who He says we are, and who He says we should love, and how He says we should live.
I know that we don’t know who or where the next tragedy will take place. But I also know that we come in contact every single day with people who need the truth and touch of Almighty God all over their lives. We need to mobilize the grace, peace and love of God. We need to be the healing balm that helps this country grow out of the temper tantrums that are costing us our lives.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. They meet in person and online every Sunday. You can also watch their services on Ruko, search for New Cumberland to find our channel. For more information please visit www.newcumberlandnazarene.com