On Tuesday, a branch of my bank was robbed at gunpoint, allegedly by a young women in her early twenties. This sent the emotions and fears of our local town sky-high, as schools held kids past the normal release time and helicopters hovered overhead.
As local tv stations and newspapers reported the details, the wheel of social media began to spin, naming potential suspects, motives, as well as giving their first hand accounts of what they saw go down.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, a suspect was in custody. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, and used social media as a place to vent, research the suspect, and make claims about her life, status, and decisions.
When all was said and done, I was left with this question: How should a Christian respond?
This is a real tragedy in my backyard. I was at the same bank at the same time just the day before. This was not someone far away in a place I’d never been to. This was as real.
First, as a side note, I want to point out the obvious: we live in a day and an age where the internet (and especially social media and news outlets) are causing the world around us to shrink. Every reported trial, tragedy, event or revolution feels as though they are happening directly to us.
As a result, we can miss the news and issues that really are happening to the very people we live, work, and interact with on a daily basis.
As a Christian, our goal is always balance. This blog is not “National News VS. Local News”, as it is wrong to emphasize one over the other. Both local and national news should be utilized as a tool to inform the Christian of the world we are sojourning in.
With that being said, what should we do?
Here’s a short list of how a Christian can do more than vent on Facebook, or gather with friends and say things like, “What is this world coming to?”, or “Back in my day…”.
1. Refuse willful naiveté. I currently live in a town of about 6000 people, after moving from a from a city of 100,000+ people. I have learned this one truth above all others-people are people and sin is a thing, no matter how large or small a city or town is. Sin, by nature, always takes advantage of someone, and is not bound by location or proximity.
Christian, face the facts-Jesus loves you, but the rest of the world is messed up. Be mindful of your surroundings, lock your doors (not just at night), and exercise healthy skepticism. Being naive to the realities we live in is foolish and not a desired trait, especially for the Christian.
In Matthew 10:16, Jesus sent out his disciples to minister to the people. He warned them, saying, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Don’t let wisdom make you callous, but don’t let fear make you naive, either.
2. Refuse to gossip. “I went to school with her!” “She’s always been a scumbag.” “She comes from trash”. These are a few of the comments I saw in 2 minutes of research on Facebook.
Gossip is a sin and helps no one. It fuels self-righteousness and promotes division. Jesus could have gossiped about Mary Magdelene, the woman at the well, Judas, Zaachaeus, and well, all of us. Yet He does not. He’s awesome, we are not. Pray to resist the temptation to gossip (Matthew 6:13).
Never forget the price Jesus paid for the sins of others was needed for your sins, too.
3. Pray. People have been traumatized. Employees have seen their lives threatened. And a suspect is now facing some harsh consequences. Does she deserve them? Probably, and thats for the courts to decide.
Regardless of fault, this is not a time to dust off our soapboxes; this is where the Christian exercises the heart of Jesus Christ, praying for the victims and suspect, local law enforcement, our local courts, and anything else we can. Pray that this young woman would know Jesus, receive His grace, repent, and live for Him all the days of her life.
All this may seem foreign to you, as thoughts of vengeance and justice cause the populace to become drunk with speculation and the freedom to release it to the masses instantaneously.
Christian, you are “not of this world” (John 15:19). We are called to another way of life. That way is Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). He redeems the lost and cares for those bent on throwing their lives away. If Jesus is in you (1st John 4:4), pray that He would awaken your hearts to His will, even if it is how to respond to a bank robbery in a small town.