I find myself asking, “what kind of world do we live in?” Over and over and over again. It’s getting to the point that I can’t even watch the news anymore because it’s just so dark and depressing. Killing sprees, massacres, bullying, suicides…there’s just so much hate everywhere.

I’m often ashamed and embarrassed of the world we live in, and even more so because I call myself a Christian. As a Christian, I have failed. We have failed.

I read a story about a special needs student in Plano, Texas. Due to a traumatic brain injury the girl suffered as small child, even though she’s 18 years old she has the mental faculties of an 8-year old. The torturous things that this girl has said to her on a constant basis is enough to turn your stomach. She’s living a life of torment for no reason. This is our fault. 

In St. Petersburg, Florida a 15-year old young man that has lived his entire life in foster care decided to find out who his parents are. He took his birth certificate to the library and started doing his research. He saw his mother’s mug shot and his father’s obituary. The only thing he had left from what his parents gave him was his name. This is a kid that has pulled it together on his own. Making good grades in school, stays out of trouble, and just wants to be accepted. He had his caseworker take him to church one Sunday morning. In a donated suit and tie, he clutched his Bible, fought off the urge to quit, and stood before the congregation and asked to be loved. Promised to be the best person he could be, if only someone would love him and give him a family. This, too, is on us. 

In Lakeland, Florida, a 12-year old girl died after jumping from a tower at an abandoned factory after years of being bullied and tortured…every day. Like the girl in the first story, the messages she was sent are devastating. The county sheriff has taken a stance and is charging the other kids behind the bullying, but again I say to you, this is our fault.

We the blood and tears of these people on our hands.

As Christians, we’re doing it all wrong. 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

Are we? Are we REALLY? The light of the world? The light in the darkness? Examples of hope in times of desperation? 

The most basic human need is the need to feel loved and accepted, and as Christians, this should come automatic to us based on the tenets of our faith and what we are taught through the teachings of Jesus Christ. But all too often, instead, I hear us going out of our way to tell people they’re wrong. We’re not commanded to spread the word of Christ through fear, intimidation, and accusation. We’re taught to spread the Gospel through example. 

BE the light of the world, don’t tell someone else how you think THEY should be the light. Teach love and tolerance THROUGH love and tolerance. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is apathy. The worst thing we can is not care, and more importantly make someone else feel like we don’t care. 

It’s not our responsibility to tell someone that they’re wrong for sharing our same beliefs. It IS our responsibility to live our lives in a way that would make someone else want to experience what we have! It’s OUR responsibility to love and treat everyone with respect, REGARDLESS of how they believe or think about us. That’s the fundamental of Christianity (oft lost and forgotten). If I have to tell you I’m a Christian, I’m doing it wrong.

My challenge to anyone that reads this is simple: Love people. Nothing more, nothing less. Share the unconditional love that God has for us through unconditional love for others. This is all it takes to change the world, but it starts with you and me. 

“Go forth and spread the Gospel, and when necessary use words.” St. Francis of Assisi