Recently, another heartbreaking event occurred. A church massacre left 26 dead and 20 more wounded. And now there has been another school shooting. And unfortunately, we can probably expect more.
We take to social media with comments like, “What do we tell our children? How do we keep them from thinking this is “normal” with new reports of violence, hatred, rioting, etc with each new week?”
Before we address this with our children, we must address this with ourselves. How are we interpreting what is happening all around us? As a Christian, I turn to the Bible to help adjust my view, my perspective on things happening in the world. If I only look from the ground level, I can be filled with fear and hopelessness. I look around and see senseless violence, hatred, and discord, and tremble in fear for my self and my family. But when I pull back to the bigger picture, with a different perspective I find understanding, power, and hope.
What I am talking about is a Biblical world view— seeing the world, people, and events through the lens of my faith in a benevolent, sovereign God who created this world and mankind, giving us human spirits that can choose or refuse to acknowledge Him and what He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to accomplish. For those of us who acknowledge truth and seek to obey God, we learn more about Him and this inner workings of this world through the Bible— God’s Word, written by men who were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. This book provides the basis or foundation for how we view things like violence in the world, sickness, and even death. Without this foundation, the answers to the questions our children are asking will be superficial, incomplete, and lack the hope we all so desperately need.
The big questions our children and yours will eventually ask are: Who would do such a thing and why? What did the victims do to deserve such violence? Are we safe? This list of foundational beliefs of course must be adapted to the age and maturity of children, but as we parents understand these aspects, they will help us communicate truth and reassurance to our children.
Things We Tell Our Children About the Violence in this World (Part 1)
- There IS good and there IS evil. There is both light and darkness.
The Apostle John described Jesus as the light of the world. “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness better than light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19-20
- Everyone has an enemy.
For those who follow Christ, our enemy is Satan, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44) who Jesus warned seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). The Apostle Peter compared him to a lion, prowling for his next victim (I Peter 5:8).
For those who do not follow Christ, your enemy is God (Rom 5:10). You may not agree with this or even realize this, but there is not a neutral or “unaffiliated” option when it comes to faith in Christ. You believe He is who He said He is and what He came to do or you do not. If you believe and obey, you are adopted as a son or daughter into the family of God. If you do not believe, you stand as an enemy of God (Col 1:21). Of course He does not want you to remain His enemy, but loved you enough to send his only Son Jesus to pay the price for your sins and bring peace between you and God.
- People are not our true enemy, they are an instrument of the enemy.
Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us the reminder that our struggles, battles, and conflicts are not against people (flesh and blood) alone, “but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” v12
Sure, a person is the one who creates a bomb, drives a vehicle into a crowd, or shoots weapons, so we cannot ignore that they are partners in the destruction of life, but they do not truly act alone as the above passage reminds us of the unseen spiritual forces at work in this dark world. Yes, the individuals are responsible for their actions, this is not an excuse, but recognition that we have to look beneath the surface for deeper understanding of the driving forces behind such intense desire for destruction.
We are told we must stand against the devils schemes (our enemy’s tactics) and that we do this by putting on the armor of God (v 13-18).
In my next post, I will share more critical aspects of the violence in this world and how we can understand and communicate hope to our children!