I have started and stopped several posts since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I have a lot of thoughts about the issue of gun control and the comments I have seen from people on both sides. I don’t think I am going to write anything about my thoughts on gun control because I get the feeling we are still not ready to have a reasonable, civil, discussion. Bring up gun control and people immediately jump to the extremes. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it, and so I will leave it alone.
The tragedy last week has affected me like very few things before. It is not equal to 9/11, but it is close. I can’t watch the news about it anymore. It is to sad…and confusing…and evil…and unexplainable. I have tried to put myself in the shoes of the parents whose children were killed, and I can’t. I don’t know how a parent can process something like that. In some weird way I can process (and even explain) events like 9/11, but I can’t even come close to processes (and explaining) Friday’s events.
All I can do is turn to my faith and ask why and seek some sort of guidance and solace and peace. Unfortunately, God never obligates Himself to answer my questions. Fortunately, He does offer guidance and solace and peace. I learned a long time ago that we don’t live by explanations. We live by promises.
The guidance I think I received over the weekend is found in Romans 12:21 – “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Here is a quick study on the key words in that verse.
- “overcome” – means to conquer or prevail; the greek word is nikao, which is a derivative of the greek word, nike, which means “victory” (I wear Nike tennis shoes and clothes. Every time I see the Nike swoosh I am going to pray for the victims in CT and remind myself to do something good. I challenge you to do the same thing everytime you see the Nike logo.)
- “evil” – a general term for all things bad, refers to evil men (or women), evil things and evil actions; sometimes the greek word (kakos) can be used to describe crime and criminals
- “good” – a general term for all things good and kind, refers to good men (or women), good things and good actions; kindness, goodness
So, using the fuller meanings of the key words, Romans 12:21 could easily be paraphrased…
…do not be a victimized by evil but be victorious over evil by being good and kind.
…do not let evil conquer you, rather, you conquer evil by living a life of goodness and kindness.
…do not let evil prevail in your life, but let your life prevail over evil by doing good.
…do not let crime and criminals overcome you, but overcome crime and criminals by doing good and being kind.
The answer to the evil in our world (and in our own hearts) is not more evil. The answer is not revenge, or more violence, or more anger, or more hatred. Those things make evil the winner, victor, prevailer, overcomer.
The answer to evil is to do the opposite of how you are feeling. The answer to evil is goodness, kindness, patience, peace, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; and in case you don’t notice the answer, read Galatians 5:22.
The question is, what does it mean to overcome evil with good? What is good? How can I be good?
Here are some suggestions:
- Treat people the way you want to be treated not the way you have been treated.
- Leave work early and to do something with your kids.
- Take kids of that single-mom you know with you on that activity.
- If you don’t have your own kids, be a mentor to someone else’s.
- Instead of rushing out and purchasing another gun, volunteer to read and tutor students at your local elementary school.
- Let that person in front of you at the grocery line, or in traffic.
- Instead of curing the darkness, light a candle.
- Volunteer at a local hospital, nursing home, or homeless shelter.
- Practice random acts of kindness.
- Stand up for the voiceless.
- Take care of the widows, orphans, immigrants, and poor among you.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
POSTSCRIPT: I can’t help myself. I have to say something about guns. Please understand, what I am about to say is just me and my personal feelings and beliefs after much reflection. In no way do I want to interfere with your right to own guns and in no way do I mean to sound judgmental. I do not think this is a spiritual issue. To be honest, deep down, I am rather glad not everyone will reach the same conclusion I have reached. But after much prayer and reflection I have come to the following conclusion for me and my relationship with God. What I have concluded is my way of working out my salvation. My conclusion is a personal conviction that is not meant to be imposed on anyone else. Ok, here it is: I do no own a gun. For me, at this point in time, purchasing a gun would be allowing evil to overtake me instead of me overtaking evil. All weekend I have been asking myself, “What would Jesus do?” And for the life of me, I cannot conceive Jesus packing heat. Now Peter, that’s another matter.