Since Friday’s school shooting, Facebook has been flooded with pictures and status updates that blame the massacre on our nation’s rejection of God. But do school shootings happen because God is not allowed in schools?
I don’t think so.
The picture I’ve been seeing most often on Facebook has been of a gray T-shirt bearing the following inscription:
Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?
a concerned student
Dear concerned student,
I’m not allowed in schools.
And to that message, many Jesus-loving, well-meaning Christians have said a hearty “Amen!”
If school shootings happen because God is not allowed in schools, why do church shootings happen?
Have we already forgotten about the fatal shooting that occurred in October at an Atlanta church? Or last year’s shooting in a Florida church that wounded the pastor and associate pastor? I’m also reminded of the Colorado shootings five years ago that killed five and injured five at a YWAM base and at New Life Church.
According to one man’s tracking of reports, there have been 633 “Deadly Force Incidents” in American churches over the last 14 years… that’s about 45 a year. (Source) Did these shootings, stabbings, poisonings, and other violent actions happen because God is not allowed in our churches?
The fact is, God IS allowed in our schools — He just isn’t allowed in the curriculum. But if godly curriculum was the answer, then we wouldn’t have any violence in our churches!
Maybe the same problem exists in our schools as exists in our churches.
If your children are Christians, then God lives inside of them. The problem isn’t that God is not allowed in schools (your kids don’t “check” Him at the door when they go in). The problem is that He’s stuck inside the students. As a nation, we haven’t trained up our Christian children — who carry God to school with them every day — to effectively let Him out!
For over a century in America, we had the luxury of the Christian God being an integral part of our schools’ curricula. Unfortunately, America’s “freedom of religion” has really become a “freedom to be religious.” In other words, our society’s low-cost Christianity has opened the door for people to be Christian in name only — going to church on Sunday at little to no cost to their own wellbeing. As a result, Christianity is now seen as little more than a curriculum for outdated morality. And as such, nominal Christian Americans feel helpless trying to push their “morality curriculum” into the public school arena.
Maybe they’re fighting the wrong fight.
School massacres happened back when God was still allowed in school curriculum (and before violent video games or movies too). The most horrific on the list — killing 44 and injuring 58 — happened in Bath Township, Michigan, back in 1927. (Source) You can’t blame video games, movies, television, or Godless curriculum for that one (same goes for all the others that happened before the 1960’s…and there are plenty).
Curriculum doesn’t transform hearts. Jesus does. “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” (See 1 Corinthians 8:1.) The Law helps identify and define sin, but it cannot (and never will) change a person into a new creation.
As nice and wonderful as it might be, the solution is not having God in the school curriculum. The solution is training our children to BE the godly curriculum in their schools!
My wife attended one of the biggest public high schools in the United States. She stayed pure and free from the world. How? On a regular basis, her parents would remind her: “You’re a light at that school. You’re the only Bible that some of your friends will ever read. Don’t take your role lightly! God wants to use you there for great things!”
Few of her friends were Christians, but she made a difference there for the kingdom of God.
Hostile environments are great for the Gospel if the Christians within that environment aren’t ashamed.
- God is not allowed in China, but revival is happening there.
- God is not allowed in North Korea, but revival is happening there.
- God is not allowed in Iran, but revival is happening there too.
If you ask me, our schools are overdue for revival!
Admittedly, China, North Korea, Iran, and many other anti-Christian nations are full of violence too; but again, I can’t blame this on God not being allowed there. God IS there. The difference between these nations and our schools, however, is the way Christians there handle the Gospel.
- In restricted nations, the Gospel is spread through acts of self-sacrificial love for the lost. In our schools, our children are warned to find Christian friends and avoid the world.
- In restricted nations, the Gospel is spread through demonstrations of God’s supernatural power and grace (healing, miracles, prophecy, deliverance, etc.). In our schools, our children are warned to follow the Law of Moses: Don’t lie, cheat, steal, hate, use bad language, dishonor teachers, etc. (The focus being on “don’t” rather than “do.”)
- In restricted nations, the Gospel is spread through bold proclamations of life in Christ. In our schools, our children are encouraged to invite people to youth group (where they can learn to invite more people to youth group).
That last one wasn’t an attack on churches or youth groups — many churches are doing a great job preaching the Gospel. My point is simply that all of us — pastors, parents, youth pastors, grandparents, and others — need to put ministry in the hands of the children! You can preach the Gospel in Church until you’re blue in the face, but societal transformation won’t happen until we send out our children “as salt and light” within their own spheres of influence. And I’m not talking about them merely being “salt and light” through moral lifestyles. I’m talking about them being demon-stomping, darkness-shattering, gates-of-hell-smashing representatives of Jesus!
- Our students need boldness and empowerment from the Holy Spirit.
- Our students need clarity about their mission.
- Our students need encouragement from Godly adults.
- Our students need to know that it’s okay and good to pray in school even if it’s not allowed.
- Our students need to be loved and embraced when they’re rejected by their friends.
- Our students need effective tools for evangelism.
And what “tools” do our students need? It’s interesting to note that Jesus didn’t give His band of young adults a bunch of Gospel tracts and pamphlets before sending them out.
Luke 9:1-2 — When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (NIV84)
Go and do likewise with our children.