What is Jesus Asking Us About Newtown?

As my neighboring community of Newtown buries its dead and sends its children back to school, as tough as it may be there is a lesson in the Sandy Hook massacre. I’ve pondered this and think that Jesus is asking us a few simple questions.

Do you love others?

Jesus gave us a simple command to love others as he loves us (John 15:12). How much did he love us? He gave his life for each of us. Do we even stop to smile at people around us, not just “loved ones?” Why isn’t a “loved one” every person we encounter? Did Jesus command us to love selectively, or everyone unconditionally, just like he loves us?

No one may have been able to stop a troubled young man from doing the unthinkable but the sad fact is he has grown up in a culture defined by anything but love. It may seem like a fools errand but we have to start spreading love. Love has to start with each of us. Jesus commanded it, and I don’t think you would classify Jesus as a “fool.”

Do you lead children to Jesus?

The children are our future. That future will be shaped by them and what we instill in them. Are you leading children to Jesus by setting a Jesus-like example? Remember, Jesus admonished his disciples from keeping the children back (Matthew 19:14) and not coming to him.

If we are focusing our kids attention on all the wrong things in life—violence in games and movies, selfish sex, being the survivor at all costs, to name a few—is this leading our kids to Jesus? Or is it effectively stopping children from reaching him?

Have you put away the sword?

Jesus told Peter to put away the sword because if you live by it you will perish by it (Matthew 26:52). Do we really need all the guns we have, especially weapons designed to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time? Why do we need to propagate a Wild West gun culture? Would Jesus pack a gun if available 2000 years ago?

We need to look beyond ourselves, after we have taken a good, hard look in the mirror. Do you look into the mirror and see Jesus, or something else?

Newtown raises a lot of questions and the underlying issues aren’t just about gun control, mental illness, school security, and American culture. We need to simply start with each one of us answering the questions that Jesus is asking us—if we only take a few minutes to hear him. If Newtown can’t get us to stop and listen, I don’t know what will.