Protecting Our Children

March 31, 2023 • Rev. Rob Fuquay

"And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." Mark 9:42  

Jesus was pretty serious about protecting children. Makes me wonder how He would feel about another mass shooting that took the lives of more children in Nashville this week. Gun violence is now the greatest threat to the well-being of children in our country. Of course, children weren't the only victims in Nashville. Older children of God died too. Why can't we change this?  

I know, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Certainly, anger is an issue in our society. And I know the argument that we need to do more to help mental illness. But if someone is angry and mentally ill, I don't want it to be easy for them to have a gun. 

The gun lobby is a powerful force. And I need to be careful here because our city will profit by hosting the NRA Convention in a few weeks. Right after celebrating that Christ is alive, we will have tens of thousands of people in our city celebrating the right to own guns. Which brings me to the question: What would Jesus do?  

Recognize that phrase? It was popular a few years back. Churches gave out bracelets with the initials WWJD on them. Seemed like a real Christian "fundy" thing to do. But the phrase came from Charles Sheldon's book In His Steps written over 100 years ago. The story begins with a pastor finding a homeless person dead on the church steps. It shook him. He wondered if he was doing his job as a pastor by just caring for his flock and not the hurting people in the community. The next Sunday he dared the congregation to start living by a simple phrase, "What would Jesus do?"  

Seems like it's still good advice. Rather than arguing about second amendment rights, looking for stats to support our position, or hunting for weapons of "mass distraction" (to borrow a phrase from Brian McLaren), let's just ask "What would Jesus do?" Would Jesus protect children? Would Jesus want us to do all we can to keep weapons out of the hands of people who might be likely to do harm? Would Jesus want us to make sensible decisions about the kind of guns that shouldn't be available to all people? What would Jesus do?  

I started this devotion reflecting on Jesus words about children. Let me close with a student's voice. I received this email the other day from Katie Bolduc in our church. She is a freshman at Westfield High School. 

I hope this email finds you well. I'm sorry to bother you, I just had to say something. When I heard about the Nashville shooting of an elementary school, all I said to my father was "Dad, there was another one," and he knew what I meant. I usually don't get all that emotional at the news. My family and I tend to follow it closely, so not much takes me by surprise anymore. But for some reason, this one just got me. I was ugly crying, which is something I'm extremely uncomfortable doing, especially around other people. A part of me wants to brush it under the rug as just teenage hormones making me overly angsty or whatever, but I know that's not it. What I'm realizing is that I couldn't even muster up the will to be angry this time. I don't have the energy for it. I'm just tired and frustrated and I can't see a way this ends. And then I went to school today, and life just went on like business as normal, quiz this, drama that, not a word said, but continuing on like this feels so sick. Sometimes, I think succumbing to apathy would be easier because I'm so fed up with nothing ever changing when it's all so senseless and destructive.   

I'm sure this probably is rambling, but if anyone can help me see some glimmer of sense in any of it, it'd be Rob Fuquay. Thank you again for all that you do and have a great night!   

Those last sentences froze me. I don't see any sense in it. And perhaps that is where we start. Saying it is senseless and we need to do something different. What would Jesus do?  

Rev. Rob Fuquay