The latest mass shooting (I won’t mention which one, because there will likely be another, and this post will apply then) has brought out the gun control and how do we legislate a way to prevent the next one folks. We just need more laws and this violence wouldn’t happen, they say. They forget that Cain killed his brother Abel with a rock when the only laws on the books were to love God and love others.
But no one wants to look into their own heart and see that the possibility for such violence lies therein as well. It’s easier to point at others, at the evil “out there,” and ask how do we stop them.
I am reminded of a time, many years ago, when I was struggling with major clinical depression. My heart was shrouded in darkness and anger. I had been hurt and having never considered forgiveness as a solution, I simply wanted to hurt back.
I remember clearly one day pulling up to a stop light at the end of Hwy 217 in Lake Oswego. I glanced to my left at the man driving the pick-up in the lane next to me. The thought crossed my mind, “If I had a gun I’d shoot him.” That same thought recurred with every man I saw for the next few weeks. I found it incredibly disturbing, but I couldn’t seem to stop it. Although I had no gun and didn’t shoot anyone, I did take my anger out on others during this time, especially my poor long-suffering husband.
Now some might say my story is the perfect example to support the cause of gun control. But that’s not why I share it. I share it because it illustrates the darkness that lurks in the hearts of us all. People who have been hurt—and there are a lot of us—hurt other people if we cling to our anger and don’t forgive. And the only way to truly forgive is through the love and forgiveness of Jesus.
More laws are not the answer to the world’s violence problem. We cannot legislate love and forgiveness. We cannot legislate Jesus.
Paul wrote in Romans 8:3-4: “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh [or sinful nature], God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
What we can do is teach our children to love and forgive by the power and grace of Jesus. And we can examine our own hearts and ask God to shine His light into any darkness therein. If every person on the planet did that, there would be no more violence and hatred. Yet you and I can’t control what others do, not even with laws. We can only control our own response to the hurts we experience in this world.