The mass shooting in Las Vegas last weekend is a terrible tragedy. Many lives were lost, many more people were injured, and emotionally, a lot of people are going to need help to resume some semblance of normality – not just the injured and the families of those who died, but also the bystanders and the people who work at the Mandalay Bay hotel where the shooting took place. Long after the news stops talking about it (news channels always find something new and shiny on which to focus), people will still be struggling.
Of course, in this era of social media where everyone seeks to share an opinion, lots of folks are talking about the need for greater gun control, tighter immigration policies, or tougher screening to weed out terrorists. But there is something else that can be done.
Parents can raise their children.
That might sound like an incongruous non sequitur, but think about it: if parents raise their children – not just give birth to them, not just feed them, not just provide for their wants and needs, but raise them – we will have a generation of people who become adults who don’t have a hankering to kill people. That sounds simplistic, but I know too many moms and dads who have engaged in the hard work of raising their kids whose children turn out to be kind, loving adults to believe it can’t be done.
To be sure, there are countless outside influences that work against what conscientious parents are doing, but that only raises the level of the challenge.
It seems like an insurmountable job, and it is. Parents can’t do it on their own.
Parents need God’s help, and they need God’s agents to help them: the church.
When parents acknowledge that the job is too difficult for them to do alone, and they submit themselves to the Lord who knew their children before they were formed in the womb (Psalm 139.16), they give their children to God, recognizing that even parenthood is a form of stewardship; children are ours to raise on God’s behalf.
Then, the community of faith can partner with the parents to help kids grow up to be good, law-abiding citizens, yes, but also to love and serve the Lord. When we introduce God into the lives of children, the Holy Spirit becomes an invisible player in the game of child-rearing – that unpredictable, love-engendering, tongues-of-fire-giving Spirit supports the work of diligent parents and churches. And the result is a generation of adults who in turn raise their children the same way.
Will this work perfectly? Undoubtedly not; because of sin, there will always be challenges to God’s plan for families. But while we pray for those affected, while we work to bring change where change is needed in society, let’s start with our own families. We can bring change; we can be change.
“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth” (Jesus, John 15.16, NLT).