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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

OPINION:

Rage. Anger. Frustration. These are just a few of the emotions many of us experience when grappling with bizarre and irrational ideologies and antics.

“Can you believe he or she said, did, or proposed this or that [insert thing]?” is my oft-times exasperated reaction to perplexing proclamations and policy happenings. 


From the gun control battle to the demoniacal social problems dominating the day, there’s no shortage of triggering issues from which such vexation can originate.

Sadly, I often stop short in the midst of my bewilderment and anger, forgetting or willfully ignoring people’s — and, yes, even politicians’ — deeper, more pervasive spiritual needs.

But the recent school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, helped change that dynamic for me. The horrific killing spree that left 19 children and two teachers dead shattered our already beleaguered national conscience and reignited old political battles.

Within minutes of the shooting, the gun control debate was raging, with liberal critics and keyboard warriors saying the shooting could have been prevented if the National Rifle Association weren’t so “evil.” Meanwhile, the other side insisted there is absolutely no legislative move that would, in any capacity, curb mass shootings.

Both sides immediately dug into their familiar rhetorical holes, turning the unimaginably painful circumstance into an insufferable stalemate laced with a cacophony of furor.

Initially, I was as aggravated as I typically am when these sorts of battles take form, especially when gun control proclamations are made before we have any viable information about the assailant, the weapons used, the procurement of guns — the list goes on. 

But Uvalde and its aftermath also left me deeply convicted about my approach to faith and public policy matters. I’m the first to offer prayers in the wake of tragedy, and those condolences and invocations are sincere. 

Still, how far am I really willing to take those invocations? Do I truly, at a visceral level, believe in God’s power? Am I believing with all my heart that prayer can move mountains?

These questions have been on my mind in recent weeks as we’ve processed all that unfolded during last month’s shooting — an event that further exposed the deep spiritual and mental health voids plaguing our nation. 

If we’re being honest, most of us have no trouble getting irritated and angry over political battles. But do we ask God to bless Nancy Pelosi, President Biden and others when we recognize their stances are immoral? Do we implore the Lord to give them His heart and to attract them to His wisdom? 

Plainly stated: Do we love them enough to pray fervently for their hearts, minds and souls? And most importantly: Do we consistently pray for spiritual and moral revival? 

If we’re honest, too many of us would answer, “No.” A lot of us are too busy politicking or, at least, reacting to others’ politicking to be bothered. Yet if we put even a sliver of the energy into these invocations that we do into complaints, anger and frustration, just imagine what could unfold.

It’s easy to roast ideological opponents and rage, but what’s exponentially harder is following Jesus’ call to feed, clothe, care for and pray for our “enemies.”

Christ makes all of this painfully clear in Matthew 5:43-44 (NIV): “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

This countercultural calling is often difficult to live out, yet none of us who claim to be believers are exempt from it. Sadly, we expect supernatural heart change when we have not fully lived out our calling to love everyone, including our enemies. 

Prayer is a potent act, yet we often treat it as mere lip service. Caught in the middle of the fighting that broke out after the shooting, I paused and realized that I most definitely believe in that power, yet have fallen short in my scoffing and complaining by neglecting to fervently live out Jesus’ call in Matthew 5.

So, when the next bout of cultural, social or political insanity comes — whether it be “drag queen story hour,” abortion, gun control or some other conundrum — rather than getting scooped up into the hate and chaos, seek Jesus, pray for your enemies, and ask God to bestow the true wisdom needed to change hearts, minds and nations.

• Billy Hallowell is a journalist, commentator and digital TV host who has covered thousands of faith and culture stories. He is the director of content and communications at Pure Flix, and previously served as the senior editor at Faithwire and the former faith and culture editor at TheBlaze.


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