Thursday, April 19, 2007

God wasn't at Virginia Tech

Ok, so I'm driving through a small town near my house on my way home from work. A local business has a big marquee out front with a statement similar to the following:
Our prayers are with the victims in Virginia. Put God back in our schools.
Now, on the surface, both statements sound good, very "Christian", if you will. I mean, no good Christian would argue against either of those statements, right? But why not, I'll take a stab at it.

We can draw a couple conclusions from this seemingly innocuous statement:
1. God is not in our schools
2. The lack of God in our schools had a causal relationship to the massacre.

I have to admit to being a bit confused. I'm no scholar, but I do know a few things about God. But I was completely unaware that God had been removed from our schools. This was news to me, and forced me to ponder tough questions the rest of the way home. Was he absent? Playing hooky? Maybe he just got fed up with the NEA and took his omnipresence and went home. Who knows? But apparently God himself is unable to breach the walls of our school system.

Now, obviously, I understand what the sign meant. It meant that discussion of God, references to God, and most importantly, staff-led prayer to God, has been removed. But that's not what it said. It said God himself needs to be put back in school. "Jerry, you're splitting hairs. Why make a big deal of it when you know what they meant?" Because I think restrictions on prayer or discussions about God in school, and saying God isn't in our schools, are completely different things. But over the years we've gradually blurred the distinction and made them one and the same. And the net effect is for us to think fatalistically, to assume it won't get any better, and to fall back on trite responses to ghastly crimes.

But it's not true! I would suggest to you that God has never left our schools. He is always present and working, and no man-made ordinance, law, effort, or initiative will keep him out. But it's easy to forget that when we keep saying we need to put him back in. Remember, we are his hands and feet, his physical presence on this earth as we expand his kingdom. If it appears that God isn't in the public schools, then maybe it's us that has been absent. Maybe we've all withdrawn and run for cover, leaving the schools to wallow in our absence. How do you think we're going to turn this thing around? By standing afar and taking pot-shots at the system? Is that what we're commanded to do? No. Never. We are to get involved and to expand his kingdom through the tireless efforts of ministering to the lost. And that means going there.

I have a suggestion. See, it's easy to say we need God back in school. It's even easier when we grasp for reasons to try and explain a senseless crime that has no reason, other than as an example of the depths of depravity that can be achieved in our fallen word. Instead, maybe we could get just as worked up about the lack of prayer in our homes. Maybe we could ask why we don't pray more with our spouse, or discuss God more with our kids. Maybe we could start a petition to introduce more prayer in our churches. I think it's silly to be so concerned about prayer in school when we've nearly lost everything in our homes and our churches, the primary place of Christian education for our children.

So let's quit whining about the state of our society and our public schools and do something about it.

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