Violence struck our nation recently in El Paso and Dayton. Armed madmen took innocent lives. Immediately the debate began about gun control and laws to govern their use. It has been an ongoing debate for years. How can our nation be the home of such senseless killings? It is a puzzle that has yet to be solved.
The question has polarized our country into increasingly angry voices. Two sides yelling at each other seldom result in a reasonable conclusion. As tempers flare and the temperature rises, a door is opened for the peacemaking calm of Christians. We may not have the answer on a national scale, but we can affect the lives we touch if…and it is a big IF…we have ourselves under control.
We must not let circumstances take control of us. It is easy to do. Stress mounts, and words come out that never should have been said. Their impact is immediate and never forgotten. They cannot be un-said. They make an indelible impression on all who hear them. Nearly everyone has memories of verbal assaults that left deep scars.
What has control of us? That is a decision that must not fluctuate from situation to situation. If it does, then our surroundings are in charge and we are puppets of our environment. If everything around us is to our liking we’ll behave appropriately. If it doesn’t suit us, we won’t. That is an unhealthy, erratic way to live. There has to be a way to rise above that.
“For the Love of Christ controls us…(2 Corinthians 5:14-15).” There has never been another totally selfless love of His type. It was not dependent on the response of the people to whom He offered it. He died for everyone. He indiscriminately brought His love into a world that neither desired nor appreciated it. It was met with rejection and hostility, and He brought it anyway.
He did so in order to deliver humanity from the dictatorial enslavement of selfishness. Self is a relentless master that is never gratified. The “successful” may have all that this world offers, but when the lights go out they feel an indescribable emptiness. It is an itch that they cannot scratch. Those who pursue contentment in such a way will always have an inner hunger and thirst that they cannot satisfy.
A focus on Christ and His love will lead us to yield our lives to His control. Violent outbursts will never be in our picture. Peacemaking will be. We will walk by His Spirit, and the fruit of that lifestyle is self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Our steps will be different in a world that desperately needs them to be. Answers about gun control may be beyond our area of expertise, but self-control is not. Give ourselves to the Lord. Follow His path. It will make us and our nation better, one life at a time.