taking the words of Jesus seriously

Shots fired in the hallway. 

People screaming. 

One class can’t lock their door, so they block the entrance with furniture. The door gets kicked in.

Eventually, the shooter is stopped. 

Everyone is taken to a safe location to meet up with parents.

But the location isn’t safe. 

An angry parent shows up with a gun and starts shooting. 

Some run, some freeze, some huddle together screaming and sobbing in fear.

Thankfully, this wasn’t a real school shooting. 

It was a required emergency drill for all teachers and school staff in my county (including my wife who is a teacher) – which ended up being a surprise active shooter drill.

Students practicing active shooter drills is disturbing.

To require school staff to go through police shooting blank bullets in the hall and kicking in doors is beyond disturbing – it is traumatic. 

Traumatic enough that therapists needed to write notes requesting their patients be excused from the required drill. 

As a Christian in the United Methodist tradition, my baptismal vows require me to resist suffering, injustice, and evil in the world – which includes putting people through traumatic situations. As a Christian Pastor, I am often with people going through painful and harm-full situations. I regularly see the hurt and scars from the pain and trauma people face in their lives. 

I am grateful our police department, sheriff department, and schools care about the lives of our students and staff. I am grateful they want to prevent school shootings and to be prepared in case something happens.

But I’m heartbroken that the best we can do is put people through terrifying and traumatic situations to prepare them.

In January, a Boing 737 jet lost a rear door plug in flight, as one article said, terrifying people on board.

Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt. 

But the result wasn’t to put people through live action drills of doors being ripped on mid-flight to ensure everyone knows how to react. 

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) halted other similar planes from flying altogether and launched a non-stop investigation. 

After learning there were issues with their quality control, Boeing was told they had 90 days to create a plan addressing quality-control because the FAA has “non-negotiable safety standards.”

Boeing must “ensure that safety is the company’s guiding principle.”

I am grateful we take air travel safety so seriously.

The Boeing incident grounded planes and required a 90-day plan to address changes – all for an incident where nobody actually died.

Just because people were terrified. 

Meanwhile, students and teachers are being terrified as a method to help them be prepared. 

I wish we took gun violence just as seriously as we take air travel. 

If we did, we would “ground” all guns used in mass shootings until we could address the issue of safety. Just like Boeing 737s were grounded. 

Our lawmakers would be given 90 days to create a plan to address these issues because we have “non-negotiable safety standards.” Just like Boeing was given.

We wouldn’t wait for people to die. 

We would require these changes right away…simply because what’s happening is “terrifying people on board.”

Life & Death

I’m reminded of the women in the Gospel of Mark who find the tomb empty. 

They are told Jesus has been raised from the dead and then they are told to go tell the disciples about it. Mark says they are terrified, run away, and tell no one…

The earliest versions of Mark’s gospel end there. 

A cliffhanger, inviting us to decide what we do with our own terror and fear. 

Do we run away and avoid?

Or do we share the truth about death, pain, and suffering? 

This is not the way God intended things to be. 

The FAA is pretty clear that people’s lives are what is most important, and they aren’t afraid to require drastic changes to make sure it happens. 

We know from other gospels that the women also weren’t afraid to make drastic changes in order to champion life. 

We should take some notes (and so should our lawmakers). 

We must not champion trauma, suffering, pain, and death as a way of protecting life.

This is not the way of Jesus. 

We must become champions of life. 

This is the way of resurrection. 

This is the way of God. 

May it be our way too. 

About The Author


Joel Simpson is the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Taylorsville, NC. He blogs regularly at https://substack.com/@joelsimpson. https://www.facebook.com/joel.simpson.98

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