Tuesday of last week was the last day before the final day of school year 2013-2014 at Reynolds High School in Portland, Oregon. Seniors were already out of school awaiting a graduation ceremony on Thursday evening, and the rest of the student body counted down the hours until summer vacation.
At about 8:15 Tuesday morning, a shooting occurred on the Reynolds campus costing two young men in the freshman class their lives — one killed by the other who then took his own life. Had it not been for the quick thinking of an injured track coach and two resource officers from the Portland Police Department, the results of this incident could have been much worse.
Via KOIN News
As the news played out all across the media that Tuesday, it was notable that not much coverage about the young man who arrived at the school with weapons and ammunition was reported. The focus highlighted the victim and his family and friends. Time was being given not only to identify a suspect but for authorities to gather as much information as possible.
My thoughts went to the family of the victim whose life faded away much too soon. I prayed for his soul, his parents and siblings, classmates, teachers, the officers on site. I prayed for our city and our state. For the youth of our world. So much to pray for, except …
Not once did the family or the perpetrator enter my mind.
Are we not to pray for the one believed to be responsible for a crime committed? Even if we don’t know?
What about after all uncertainty has lifted and we know who is responsible? What then?
To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (Luke 6:27-30, MSG)
In these verses, Jesus directs us to love our enemies, to respond with prayer energy for that person, and lastly to live generously.
Why is this so hard for us?
A natural response is to fight back. To do otherwise goes against basic human instinct. Our first response is to protect ourselves and others, to seek revenge where an innocent is harmed, and to hope for justice or punishment for the one causing harm. What Jesus requires of us seems impossible!
Yet, God created all of us. The good, the bad, the perpetrator, the victim, the innocent, the evil. We are to pray for all God’s people, not just those we consider good and respectable.
Let’s take a moment in closing to look at Jesus on the cross. He had endured crucifixion, an act soaked in torture and humiliation. And still Jesus was able to say,
Father, forgive these people! They don’t know what they’re doing. (Luke 23:34, CEV)
As followers of Christ, no matter how violent the act may seem, we can embrace Jesus’s example and begin with prayer for all involved in incidents like the one this past week at Reynolds High School.
What is your reaction when you hear of another school shooting or mass shooting of any kind? Who do you find yourself praying for? Let’s begin a discussion below.
Linking up today with:
Kelli Woolford @ Unforced Rhythms
Joan @ Sharing His Beauty
on Wednesday with:
Holley Gerth @ Coffee for Your Heart
Jennifer Dukes Lee @ #TellHisStory