Current events have a way of exposing one’s underlying theology and worldview. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a political scandal, or the death of a famous gorilla (you’re still my boy, Harambe), our responses to the latest, most newsworthy happenings often put our usually unspoken assumptions on public display (for better, or for worse).
I’ve found that to be the case with the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. Of course, it should go without saying that believers’ first priority when hearing of such carnage should be to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), and pray for those who have suffered such devastating loss.
But as tends to be the case, this event instantly spurred on debate over gun rights and gun control. Some immediately leapt to defend the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution; others immediately leapt to advocate for laws and restrictions to try to prevent these horrors from happening with such extremity and/or frequency. And in the process, it seems to me that both sides – especially the Christians in both camps – may have shown some of their cards when it comes an important aspect of theology and worldview.
I found myself thinking not so much about the specific debate of the constitutionality of gun rights vs. the effectiveness of gun control (and I hate to burst your bubble, but I don’t have any hot takes about which side Christians MUST fall on to REALLY be a follower of Jesus, and I won’t plant my flag on either hill in this post). More than anything, the events in Uvalde – and the subsequent responses of fellow believers in Jesus – got me thinking about the attitude and approach we ought to take as we live in a fallen world.
For example, many Christians who fall on the gun rights side of the debate stress that our world is fallen, people are sinful, and no laws or policies can ultimately change that. Meanwhile, Christians who fall on the gun control side of the debate stress our God-given calling to do everything in our power to make this fallen world look more like God’s Kingdom (which does not include murdered children).
And here’s the thing: both sides have a point. It’s true that Christians are fools if we think that by simply electing the right people, passing the right laws, and enforcing the right policies, we can eliminate evil from our world. But it’s also true that when something horrible happens, Christians shouldn’t just throw up our hands and say, “Welp, what are you gonna do? The world is fallen, so I guess it just is what it is.” Neither side is totally wrong, but it also seems like both sides are missing something important.
I suppose my thoughts come down to this: what should we Christians expect life to be like in a fallen world? What is our mission as we live among sin’s ruins? Is it our job to bring about Utopia? Or are we completely powerless to push back against the fall?
It seems to me that neither extreme is desirable, responsible, or Biblically sound. We shouldn’t give Satan too much credit and assume that nothing can be done to make our world a little more like heaven than it currently is. But we also shouldn’t give ourselves too much credit and assume that we can reverse the fall by our own power.
At the end of the day, only Jesus’s return will bring God’s Kingdom into full view. But as we wait for Jesus’s return, Christians are called to serve as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) in a world full of decay and darkness. So until Jesus comes, we shouldn’t arrogantly get our hopes up too high about what we can accomplish apart from his presence. But neither should we be utterly hopeless, surrendering the field to sin and its effects.
Again, this post isn’t about your stance on gun rights vs. gun control; it’s about the attitude and approach we take to living in a fallen world. I’m simply beginning to suspect (and tentatively suggesting) that the Church, the world, and God’s Kingdom would be better served if we Christians didn’t fall into either of the two unhelpful extremes mentioned above: assuming that we can fix the fall, and assuming that we can’t do anything at all about the fall. Christians are neither naive triumphalists or depressed defeatists.
So, may we fervently pray for Jesus to return. But may we also seek to make our world more like his Kingdom while we wait. May we be found faithful when God restores these ruins to something glorious – in the ways that only he can.