As I’m sitting down to write this post, I’m aware there was another mass shooting yesterday. It’s so heartbreaking. The loss of life. The loss of our safety. The loss of trust in anyone.
In 2021 there were 692 mass shootings. In 2022 there were 648. In 2023, so far there have been 33. But that may change before this post goes live.
Do you remember all these shootings? I sure don’t. There are so many we don’t hear about them unless there are many lives taken. Fifty-eight per month in 2021, fifty-four per month in 2022. Who knows what will happen in 2023?
We live in a society out of control. I’m sure, like me, you feel frustrated. There is the desire to do something. Something more than prayer, even though praying is the best we can do. We all want this to stop but have no way to combat the unknown shooter until that person becomes known—and even then, our hands are tied.
The best we can do is act as an individual and make a difference within our sphere of influence. In John 17, Jesus prays, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” (vs. 6a NKJV)
He goes on to pray in verse 9, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me…”
We must take heart from this prayer and look around at those God has brought to us to interact with and include in our prayers and outreach. These may be friends. Jesus had his disciples and those who followed Him. They may be the leper at the side of the road or the person who is needy and touches the hem of the garment. It may be the rejected woman at the well.
Who is that person to you. Not just the people you eagerly hang out with, eat meals with, or do Bible study with, but the ones God has you notice that may not be as desirable? Who is within your sphere of influence.
Much has been made of kindness lately. I agree that kindness is good. We must treat each other with kindness and do acts of kindness. Yet, is that enough? Is acting in kindness the end result for a Christian? I don’t believe so.
Jesus said to his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John 13:34-35 NKJV)
I Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
To do acts of kindness is wonderful, but to love is an action on behalf of Jesus. Acts of kindness will spring out of love. Love will cause us to perpetrate these acts to those we normally wouldn’t notice or care about. Love will make a difference even if it’s just one person at a time.
Love isn’t easy. Loving that leper who is diseased and doesn’t know God or recognize Him, is hard. Loving the person who is demon possessed seems almost impossible. The same goes for loving the person you believe is far from God or influenced by Satan. Seemingly impossible. But with God those things are possible.
With God, we can take the news of a society gone wrong and focus on what we can do. Let’s focus on those around us by praying for the person God wants us to reach out to today. And then act. Act in kindness. Act in love.
That act may be a smile or a kind word. It may be a prayer or a short conversation. It may be taking food to someone, or helping them with something. Love is extending God to a world in desperate need.
Share God’s love. Maybe that will be the one moment when you change a potential shooter’s life. When you help them to see God and His love for them. I pray that is true.