A Nation Awash in Gun Violence:
We Have One Great Hope
Well, it’s happened once again! This past Monday. This time in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Music City, USA” has now become “Mourning City, USA.” However, the report from there sounds similar to what’s happened in a hundred other cities just since January 1.
A 28-year-old fatally shot three children and three adults at a private Christian elementary school, devastating families and entire communities for months and years to come. Children in preschool through sixth grade had just begun their final week of classes before Easter break.
Of course, we all know the drill: At least 57 people have died in 38 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this month, with another 133 injured. There have been 130 mass shootings in 2023 so far, meaning there have been more mass shootings than days this year! About a fifth of U.S. adults say they or someone close to them has had an experience with gun violence in the past five years.
No wonder, despite the polarizing climate surrounding gun issues, 71% of all Americans (including millions of gun owners) strongly support implementing new policies to end to gun violence—especially in our schools and among the youth of our land.
But realistically, is there any lasting hope that things can be changed? For whatever reasons, America remains the only nation throughout the developed world facing this cultural catastrophe—almost weekly. No others even come close to the brokenness of our society in this regard.
But still, there is hope—there is ONE GREAT HOPE! It may, in fact, be our only hope. Let me tell you about it. I want to show you how you and I can become part of that solution ourselves.
Our one possibility of deliverance is itself a form of violence—that is, spiritual violence. Jesus declared: “The Kingdom of God is forcefully advancing, and people of force are laying hold of it.” (Matthew 11:12). From the Greek, the verse could also be translated “violently advancing” and that “people of violence” are participating in that advance. What could that possibly mean?
Essentially, it comes down to bringing the saving reign of Christ to bear upon the people of God in such an explosive way, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that we become the means by which this passage is fulfilled. It says:
Or we might paraphrase this Bible promise with these words: “Where violence abounds, the delivering, transforming work of God in Christ suddenly abounds far more.”
That means even when it feels like violence is overtaking our land, the life-giving reign of Christ—by which he makes right all that is wrong—prevails through his followers throughout our culture, as hearts and lives enter into the joys of his great salvation.
For those of you who are part of the CHRIST NOW family, you immediately know where I am headed! I’m talking about nothing less than “spiritual violence”—crushing the forces of darkness, pushing back the powers of Satan, and conquering rebellious spirits, both human and supernatural. We call that
“Our one great hope: the force of an
American CHRIST Awakening.”
You can read all about what an American CHRIST Awakening involves as we envision it HERE.
These two ways we define a Christ Awakening clearly show how it points us toward hope in the midst of our national tragedy:
When the whole Church becomes wholly alive to the whole vision of the whole Christ.
When God so saturates his people with the supremacy of Christ that they begin to saturate their communities with the gospel of Christ.
Both definitions also define how Christ’s kingdom work advances best—the kind of “violence” it brings upon a person, school, city, or nation. It also explains what it means for those who belong to the Lord Jesus to become a “forceful people. We become “violently redemptive” in his name and for his sake—the violence of HIS love—because we have first “laid hold” of HIS eternal, life-giving initiative.
What if churches and Jesus followers in America—awakened afresh to Christ for all he is today—rose up in the following ways that mimic activities in a “gun culture” but with Christ-focused applications?
- Background checks: What if every Christian took a spiritual inventory of where they stand with Christ right now. What people or activities, possessions, political persuasions, personalities, or church traditions have removed our Redeemer King from his rightful place as supreme in all things and as the passion of our lives? In other words, where do we need to repent, turn around, and come back to him to fall at his feet and begin our walk with him in a whole new way?
- Registration: In what ways can we begin to “register” before fellow believers that we intend to be “all-in” from now on for the name and fame and reign of God’s Son? How can we become far more open and bold about our commitment to the Savior with one another—as a way of life?
- Training: To properly use a gun, you need training by a gun expert. In the same way, to stay fully alive to Christ, live a life saturated with his supremacy, and begin sharing him effectively with others, we all need to be (as Jesus put it in Matthew 28) “discipled.” Do you need to seek out a fellow believer, maybe one who has walked with Jesus for a while, so you can gain from their experience in order to help mold you into a “person of force”?
- Open Carry: In some states, people are now legally allowed to walk around with their weapons in plain view. Well, to wage “spiritual violence” against the forces of all kinds of evil in our communities, Christians need to significantly increase our open, consistent, bold but sensitive witness to our faith in Jesus, our love for Jesus, and our full participation in the kingdom of Jesus.
Becoming a “people of force”
I’ve just outlined some of the fruits of an American CHRIST Awakening, put in the terminology that gun owners would recognize.
But in the end, IF such a Christ-exalting spiritual revolution becomes a reality within the Church in our nation—directly engaging the violence all around us—we ourselves must become the ultimate weapon in God’s hands.
This is how Paul sees Christians in Ephesians 6, where he reminds us that the violence we all face is beyond human. Rather, we are “wrestling not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers in heavenly places, with the rulers of this darkness.” Therefore, the weapon in this ultimate battle is the Church—God’s people standing our ground in his power, clothed with the armor of God, all of which is the person of Christ himself.
Together, all the components of spiritual armor he describes are really aspects of the supremacy and reign of Christ into which we must enter so fully that it’s as if we put him on—like a Roman soldier who prepares and puts on all that he needs for warfare to be both protected from and to defeat the enemy.
Serving a warrior Savior whose cause
is forcefully advancing right now!
Finally, with the waves of gun violence that are overwhelming our nation right now, we are not alone. In the end, the living God, through his risen, reigning Son—because of the violence done against his Son on the cross for our sakes—is already actively at work. HE is the ONE GREAT HOPE we have in this challenging time in America.
Let me share a few promises with you from Isaiah that are poised to be fulfilled at this hour in our land through Jesus Christ and to which God’s people need to become wholly alive (selected verses from Isaiah 59 and 60, The Living Bible, emphasis added):
The Lord saw all the evil and was displeased to find no steps taken against sin. He saw no one was helping you and wondered that no one intervened.
Therefore, he himself stepped in to save you through his mighty power and justice. He put on righteousness as armor and the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with robes of vengeance and of godly fury. He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds—fury for his foes in distant lands.
Then, at last they will reverence and glorify the name of God from west to east. For he will come like a flood tide driven by Jehovah’s breath.
He will come as a Redeemer to those in Zion who have turned away from sin . . . .
Arise, my people! Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is streaming from you. Darkness as black as night shall cover all the peoples of the earth, but the glory of the Lord will shine from you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see the glory of the Lord upon you . . . .
The Lord will be your everlasting light; your days of mourning all will end. All your people will be good. They will possess their land forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands; this will bring me glory.
The Redeemer has come. He is here. His kingdom is among us.
Therefore, why should the Church not awake and arise to him who is the glory of the Lord? Why should the Church not flow forth in Jesus’ name from coast to coast as a mighty flood of righteousness and truth and healing and love, driven along by the Spirit of God?
Under the command of the Prince of Peace, why should we not cover ourselves with the panoply of God and advance forth to push back the darkness, secure in the Lord Jesus Christ as our all-sufficient armor?
With all that’s at stake, why should not every part of the Christian movement join hands with Jesus, standing side by side to spread his gospel as we struggle with undying compassion for the hearts and minds, the souls and destinies of our fellow Americans?
At this defining moment, why should not God’s people everywhere fully embrace the radical, revolutionary, relentless heart of God and make it our own, to manifest through faithful obedience to Christ his truth, justice, and saving power into every corner of our land?
Why should we not claim and act without delay on the high and holy calling Jesus gives us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God?”
Like the Son of God, why should we not labor in his name and by his power to bring about the wholeness and holiness, the reconciliation and renovation that are found in him alone—to activate it all somehow, someway, every day among those who are our friends and neighbors, who share with us in our communities and schools?
Since the battle to end violence in our land must be engaged, why should we not immediately identify with believers down through the ages—holding back nothing, giving him our all—as we join in “Christ’s triumphal procession to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
And as we do, why not march forth, in word and deed, raising up a song of triumph that says (slightly revised):
of the coming of the Lord…
God’s LOVE is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet
That shall never call retreat.
He is sifting out the hearts of men
Before His judgment seat;
Be swift, my soul, to answer Him;
Be jubilant, my feet;
[God’s LOVE] is marching on.[Jesus has] a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me;
As He died to make [us] holy,
Let us live to make [us whole];
[As] God’s LOVE [marches] on.Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
God’s LOVE is marching on.
In the face of accelerating gun violence, this is the hope we bring.
This is the hope we ARE.
Watch this 20-minute video to learn more about what
a Christ Awakening is.
About the Author
Over the past 45 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ Awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular Daily CHRIST TODAY Podcast.