Run into the Darkness with Light and LOVE

light-and-love.jpgA Heartfelt Message to our National Day of Prayer Family

As I sit here typing this article my heart aches with devastation not only from this past weekend of violence and death but from the past several years of terror in our schools, streets, and stores. As the school bus roared past my window this morning the plan had been to write to you about “Back to School in Prayer,” and as I turned on my local news, one of the top stories was about the drastic increase in the sales of bulletproof backpacks. Just pause and let that sink in for a moment… bulletproof backpacks!

What has happened to us? I refuse to get political because our solutions do not reside in the State House, or even the White House; our only hope and only solution resides in Jesus and in our own house. Every single American has a responsibility to make significant changes if we want to see these horrific, senseless mass shootings end. Every person no matter how you vote, where you live, the color of your skin, or any other factors you focus on that spotlight our differences and spark division, it is high time for us to stop focusing on being political and start being biblical.

If you are one to scoff at or even hate the Church, I humbly ask you to continue reading this with an open mind and heart that every person claims to have. I am deeply sorry and apologize if you have been rejected or hurt by a follower of Jesus. We are imperfect people, sinners who profess the need of our Savior Who is perfecting us but is not finished with us. Our God is perfect, we are not. Please know that Christians believe and follow the God who commands us to, “LOVE one another.” Our God’s commands include, “Thou shall NOT murder.” We are also told not to judge others but to love and share the message of Jesus with everyone not just those we personally agree with or deem worthy. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In the Bible in Matthew chapter 5 Jesus said, anyone who is angry with another, who insults them or calls them a fool is as guilty as one who commits murder. I am sorry if sinning church people have hurt you instead of telling you Christ loves you and died for you.

It is exactly that kind of rejection and pain that I am writing about today – it has to end. Somehow in my generation, cruelty was renamed “comedy.” The everyday practice of making fun of someone for laughs and applause, while completely disregarding the mental and emotional torture that was being inflicted in the PUNCHline of our joke – yes, a joke can pack a mean PUNCH! Name-calling and blame became a game and instead of civil discourse. Our family meals are often a civil war, only there is nothing “civil” about it. The gloves have come off. Hate sprays from our mouths like the bullets from the guns in hundreds of places including classrooms, concerts, and even churches.

Psychology 101 teaches that “hurting people hurt people.” So it would serve us well to ponder the opposite, wouldn’t “loved people love people”? It seems we have an identity crisis on our hands; we have forgotten we are LOVED. We are made in the image of All-Mighty God who sent His one and only Son to die for us and take the punishment for our sins. He then sent His Spirit to live in us so that we are fully loved and fully equipped to love others as He commanded. Instead we have believed the lie, the punchline, the bullies; instead of the Bible and we have taken on a false identity and live the lie of “less than.” As bullies at school, work and yes, even church, huddle up in clicks to tease, prank, or speak truth without love, the weed of mental and emotional damage takes seed and begins to grow into a dark and dangerous mindset. A mindset, that as we have seen, can even lead to murder. Hate has to end.

While we post and protest, the hate goes on. We cannot wait for laws to change, WE have to change; change how we treat one another, how we think, what we say, and how we act. While we do pray for the victims, families, and cities affected by this past weekend’s violence and for all of those who have been living with the on-going loss and pain from shootings ten, fifteen, and even twenty years ago, know that we do not forget you. My prayer is that we would all take some time to consider how we treat one another and would resolve today to take every thought captive and think about what we are about to say before we say it. We are brutally beating one another up with our words, and it is time to make a change and truly LOVE one another, so we can live with one another.  

Serving Him,

Kathy Branzell

President, National Day of Prayer Task Force