Be a part of something better

Published 10:02 am Friday, July 17, 2015

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Vern Harris

The nightly news, regardless of the network, begins with the words, “Good Evening,” and then for the next 30 minutes they tell us all the reasons why this day and evening are not “good” at all. We endure another litany of bad news and hear more about the human tragedies that may be on the other side of the world or much closer to home.

Vern Harris

Vern Harris

For most of us the two most frequent questions that spring to mind are “how” and “why?” These questions become all the more urgent when we are learning not of some natural disaster but of a terrible act of violence some person or persons have perpetrated on others, too often upon people who seem innocent and wholly undeserving.

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The “how” is usually debated by those with some expertise in the area and often carries an answer that includes judgment and condemnation. Somehow, some way, someone must have really messed up to allow the unthinkable to occur.

The ”why” is usually a more difficult question. We wonder what causes these people to do the horrible things that they do, and whether we have reached a point in this country where we are no longer surprised when we hear the devastating news of a gunman (or gunmen) going wild on a shooting spree? Is it OK for us to be satisfied with our reactions being only measured shock and sorrow, the severity being related to the closeness of the latest tragedy to our own homes?

We often learn that a common description of those persons who have acted out in anger and violence is that of being loners, socially disconnected and dysfunctional, and enraged over their feelings of being ignored and/or abused. This disconnection stems from unsatisfactory life at home, parents that abused or ignored them, spouses who have divorced or left them, and other broken relationships whether real or imagined. Another trait often mentioned is the lack of a meaningful, supportive, healthy faith and church family.

Is there anything we can do besides shaking our heads in sorrow and despair? I believe that while there are great limitations on what we can do to ensure the safety of the nation or the world as a whole, we do have the opportunity and obligation to care for our families, befriend the friendless, reach out to the disconnected and love the unlovely. If we do so, will we prevent another terrible episode highlighted on the nightly news? It is impossible to know, but I do know this: connecting, including, befriending, loving, encouraging, mentoring and evangelizing are all roles that God has spelled out as vital for his people. If this is so clearly the will of God can there be any doubt that the result will be a victory over evil, at least in some measure in our small corner of the world?

Isn’t it possible for every parent, spouse and neighbor to be a better friend and help-mate? Isn’t it imaginable for all of us to open our heart’s door a little wider, to accept and encourage those around us more eagerly?

Who knows if bettering hearts and attitudes will serve to stop something terrible from happening. But I do believe that people who are positive, loving, encouraging, praying, forgiving and helping will have a powerful impact on those closest to us. I also believe  that this is a daily choice we can always make, with God’s love and power.


Vern Harris is pastor of New Life Christian Church.