In the aftermath of the recent Florida school shooting, Baltimore Ravens’ tight end Benjamin Watson eloquently used his platform to offer prayer, perspective, and a desperate plea for public change.
Taking to social media and media interviews, he offered the following insight:
Over this week while we have been driven to our knees as countless voices invoke prayer, I am haunted by the fact that this very exercise is forbidden in this school [Parkland] and thousands of others across our nation. I ask myself, “If He is God in crisis is He not also God in peace?! If He is worthy of our desperate cries in distress is He not worthy for us to seek Him and submit our lives to Him daily?”
God is not a cosmic vending machine to be used at our disposal only when the problem or pain is greater than our ability to control it. And while because of His love and mercy He is compelled to hear our pleas and meet us in these times, by forcing Him out of the public arena it is only us who will collectively suffer.
In times like this, we loudly reiterate the charge to each citizen to RESPECT LIFE yet we sanction the disintegration of our families’ bonds, the murder of our unborn children and the excessive incarceration of our young men. Even now, the climate in this country is tense and toxic, with accusations and conspiracy reaching the highest levels of our government. Insults without contrition are spewed, creating ripples of animosity vengeance and strife among the populace. Instead of staunch fundamental yet respectful disagreement with the other side, we hate the other side and have no qualms about expressing it in the most descriptive and vile ways in written and spoken word. We are too proud to apologize and too angry to forgive. We lie and omit truth, cleverly selecting words and phrases to fit our narratives and support our agendas. We encourage a lifestyle of relativism, free expression, and a capricious standard of morality that is based on whims rather than wisdom. We condone and sometimes celebrate violence and abuse in various forms.
While justice demands this young man in Parkland Florida be held accountable for the heinous plan he carried out by his own volition, we must have the courage to take an honest assessment of our culture in its totality and how it relates to this tragedy and others like it…as these acts of violence indict the criminal as well as the society he emerged from.
My take away from Watson’s wisdom? Simply put, he’s spot on.
In reading his comments, I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13, noted as the “Love Chapter.” As Christians, we’re called to personify Love—serving as an antidote to hatred—and offer Hope to a hurting world.
That said, if we truly “love,” then we must willing address the difficult questions and acknowledge the myriad of factors that contribute to our culture’s demise. We must not allow the pain of the past or the fear of the future to callous our faith in the present.
As people search for answers to unconscionable questions, we must be readily armed with loving comfort and a relentless courage to combat our cultural’s dismal trajectory.
In closing, like Watson, I do pray for a peace and healing for our nation. I do pray for those directly and indirectly impacted by this recurring cycle of violence. And personally, I do pray that I daily lay aside my pride, prejudice, and personal preferences to actively show Love to a desperately searching watching world.