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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Not Surprised

The events of last Saturday in Tucson are disturbing and sad, but they are not surprising.

At least, we shouldn't be surprised. That an unstable young man would resort to violence against a public official is, in many ways, simply to be expected in our sin-sick age.

We are, after all, a society which (a) has diminished regard for women, (b) glorifies violence as a form of entertainment, (c) affirms - even from the highest court in the land - each person's right to make up his own worldview, (d) made it relatively easy to possess firearms, the power of which our Founders could never have imagined, (e) and have promoted incivility and disrespect to the status of status quo throughout our society.

So should we be surprised when all these things come together like characters in a Thomas Hardy novel in one man's horrible actions on a quiet Saturday morning? Hardly.

But that doesn't mean we should be complacent about the status quo, either.

William Wilberforce is remembered because of his 30-year struggle to end slavery throughout the British Empire. But he actually had two missions in life. The second was "the reformation of manners." Late 18th century England was a corrupt and uncivil society, and Wilberforce and his friends - the members of the Clapham Sect - made it their business to turn things around. Through Christian witness, mobilizing people throughout the nation, and starting movements and societies for reformation, they succeeded in many ways.

We must not give up on the Christian vision of a decent, justice, safe, orderly, fruitful, and prosperous society. This was the vision that motivated our colonial forebears and brought into being the greatest nation the world has ever known. We must not give up on this vision. Instead, incidents such as the tragedy in Tucson should make us redouble our efforts to seek the Lord in prayer, band together with like-minded people, and work as hard as we can to bring the light of the Gospel into the darnkess of our unbelieving age.

As we pray for Congresswoman Giffords, the others who were wounded, and the families and friends of those who died, let us also pray for our nation. The moral, social, and cultural atmosphere of our nation - which spawned this and other tragedies like it - will not change by legislation alone. Unless the hearts of Americans are renewed in the love of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and unless the holy and righteous and good Law of God once more begins to guide the good works of all Americans, tragedies like this will continue.

But unless we commit to pray for such a revival, don't look for things to change any time soon.

Related texts: 1 Timothy 2.1-4, Psalm 80

A conversation starter: "Do you think our nation can survive much longer without some deep and fundamental change in the hearts of her people?"

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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