Increasing violence points to big trouble ahead
When I started to write my upcoming book, Big Trouble Ahead, I had no idea how quickly and horrifically its warnings would unfold. The tragedy of violence continues to escalate, and it’s happening close to home. A few weeks ago in my Nashville suburb, a young man was shot to death just after a high school graduation. A week later, an unthinkable mass shooting took place at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, taking the lives of 19 children and two teachers — it takes your breath away.
These events are beyond tragic, but it would be disingenuous to act as if they were a surprise or something new. Violence is becoming far too familiar to us, and it comes in many forms. I recently conducted a memorial service for a college student killed by an intoxicated driver who was illegally in our nation. In 2021, Chicago had almost 800 homicides, and 12 major U.S. cities broke homicide records. Last November, a Wisconsin man drove his vehicle into a parade, killing six and injuring dozens of others. Earlier this year, a stranger pushed a woman in New York City onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train for no identifiable reason — just evil.
Every time there are new expression of violence, anger, hatred, or evil, there are loud and persistent voices shouting for change. But which of our current maladies have been vastly improved by those who are offering solutions to violence? People who use tragedy as a means for personal gain or their own agendas should not be trusted. If we can’t see the solutions to the problems we faced before the crisis of the week, why would we entrust them with the solutions to the challenges we see today?
If they can't be trusted to protect our free speech;
If they can't be trusted to protect our unborn children;
If they can't be trusted to protect our right of peaceful assembly;
If they can't be trusted to protect our borders from illegal immigrants;
If they can't be trusted to tell us the truth about our economic condition;
Then why would we trust them with our personal protection? It's illogical.
We do need change. The question is, what kind?
It’s tempting to rush to a quick solution, but that’s a childish response. The truth is we’ve arrived to this point after years of ignoring God, and we will not find a better place quickly. There are some underlying realities that must be addressed, or we will soon find ourselves in a much deeper place with far fewer freedoms.
Lawlessness has been growing steadily. We ignore the laws we don't like, then we feign surprise and dismay when someone ignores legal authority. We ask, “How could they do that?” but the truth is we’ve been cheering for the same type of actions all along, when people break the law in a way we approve.
We defund our police, and continually assert that passive responses to violence are preferred. I assure you the police understand how many eyes are on them and how many attorneys are standing at the door. Now we're shocked when they're reluctant to respond to a crisis.
Our schools are failing. We were so distracted and disinterested in the education of our children, we were barely paying attention to what was being pumped into their hearts and minds. COVID began to wake us up. The teachers’ unions blame the parents, and the parents are angry with the system, but the awkward reality is that the education of our children begins with the family. Families need to be strengthened by faith, and then the family’s biblical worldview needs to be integrated into our larger culture.
The children — all of the children, not just our biological ones — are our responsibility. The best gift we can give the children is to tell them, “There is a God, and He loves you.”
When we start to learn about the backgrounds of violent criminals, we see a history of isolation, abuse, rejection, broken or nonexistent families, and many times a lack of fathers in the home. Our families are broken — both inside and outside the Church. We are decades into this problem, and to be completely candid, it's going to take tremendous courage to walk in a new direction. We’ll need to talk about the biblical definition of family and marriage, and our roles within that structure. That requires submitting ourselves to the authority of God, instead of acting like His Word is just a suggestion, or some sort of a divine prompt.
We're in troubled times, and I don't know what the future holds. Our wealth may fail. Our freedoms could very well continue to deteriorate. We’ll likely see ungodliness continue to be celebrated and righteousness mocked. What’s clear is we are not going to get to a better place by electing somebody new. We need a fundamental change at the grassroots level.
We need to ask ourselves a series of questions:
- To what extent have we relegated church and Christianity to a secondary place?
- To what extent have we allowed our faith to be pushed out of the public square?
- To what extent have we accepted the reasoning that our faith should be separate from the state?
- To what extent have we forgotten God?
We are not hopeless. Our Deliverer is none other than the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and He is watching over us. Our authority comes from yielding to Scripture and obeying God in our personal lives, as difficult as that can sometimes be. We’re not going to see an expression of His power, His deliverance, or His assistance until we are willing to fully submit our lives to Him.
If we will consistently choose to yield to God and follow His lead, I’m confident it will change the trajectory of our nation.
Allen Jackson is senior pastor of World Outreach Church, a congregation of 15,000, and founder of Allen Jackson Ministries, which broadcasts his biblical messages across the world on TV, radio, and the internet. He is the author of God Bless America Again and Intentional Faith, and his new book, “Big Trouble Ahead,” releases from Thomas Nelson Aug. 16.