With the recent lockdowns at Laurel Elementary, I have been thinking and wondering what the appropriate response is from a partnership level, community level, and pastoral/church level.
Did Jesus ever have to confront threats on His life or the life of others? In this case, it seems that confronting threats on others is more applicable since the Gospel recounts how some in the religious/political sphere did threaten to kill Him. So did Jesus confront a system or individuals that were threatening the life of others? If so, how? What was the outcome?
As a citizen of Oceanside and pastor that is called to shepherd others (sheep, I imagine, were also threatened by wolves), what is my responsibility to respond to threats being made on my children? I say “my children” because these ought to be my kids too. They live in my proximity. But I too have two boys that are in the school system and are susceptible now to threats by others.
In all honesty, I’m angry because two people now have scared a group of children and their family members. Threats on livelihood have been made and there is outrage. But anger and outrage are feelings. I don’t have the answers to these questions. There are others that are more qualified and trained to see psycho-social dynamics at work. There are others who have great angles on how to tackle these issues. But I want to be a social agent as well. I want to do my part. And what might that look like?
To the perpetrators, I would say, “You must take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. You must be aware of how much fear and pain you are causing others and understand that is not right. It is an act of injustice, incivility, and demonstrates traits of a lack of love and love of others. It is an act that is only focused on the YOU and not on how it makes others feels. Your act of injustice must be sufficed with repentance, contrition, and asking for forgiveness. You must search your heart and understand what prompted you to act in such a way. You will also have to be disciplined for your actions and have some consequences with the minimum of imprisonment. But it would be more helpful to you and the community of your heart was transformed in the process. You will be granted pardon and forgiveness if/when you have taken responsibility for your actions and show that you have changed. May God have mercy and grace on you.”
To the community, I would say that it is appropriate to be angry and upset. But we must also take responsibility for our own hearts and character. We must ask ourselves in what ways can we see true transformation in our own personal lives so that it spills out to the community? And how is the Cross of Christ a symbol for us? Jesus is constantly giving His life for the sake of others. How can self-giving love win in this threat-induced act of violence? What does self-giving love look like in the midst of these threats and “spooks”? I don’t know. But I want to be in the dialogue and I want to be part of the agency that helps usher in true civility.
My prayer is that God would protect the children and that God would give those that are in a place to effect change, wisdom and fortitude to make the necessary adjustments. For Oceanside (and surrounding communities) to be self-giving in love and service when threats are made. Why? Because love for the sake of others compels us to.
When Jesus’ life was threatened, He saw the malady and offered forgiveness. He gave Himself knowing that not everything would be healed and made right immediately. But He gave Himself anyway because good and light would overcome evil and darkness…eventually! Eventually, our self-giving acts of love will overcome evil and darkness. We must not lose heart in doing good.
Galatians 6:9 The Message (MSG)
9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.