Friday, October 6, 2006

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)

Marian Fisher, 13, is said to have stepped forward and asked her killer to "shoot me first," in an apparent effort to buy time for her schoolmates.

Rita Rhoads, a Mennonite midwife who delivered two of the victims, told ABC News she learned of the girl's plea from her family. What's more, her younger sister, Barbie, who survived the shooting, allegedly asked the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, to "shoot me second," Rhoads said.
I read this in the morning paper and my eyes filled with tears. What more Christian love could we ever see than those young girls offering themselves in an attempt to save their classmates?

When I heard of the shooting in the Amish schoolhouse I was horrified just like everyone else. What could be worse than for our modern, scarred society to spill over into a society that is the epitome of innocence? How many times did I hear someone say that those children would have no idea what to do? (What a sorry and revealing fact about our society that our children have been drilled against such a possibility.)

I was not as upset for the Amish in the aftermath of the tragedy as I have been for the families from other school shootings. Mostly, I think, because I felt that if anyone was equipped to come through horror and loss it would be the Amish who center their lives around God. Yes, it would be terrible to endure but they have God and their community. That is a lot more than I ever felt assured was possessed by survivors of other such events.

I read about the heroism of those two girls. I thought about the Amish and what an example of living the Christian faith of true forgiveness they are showing our country. I wondered if anyone would see it that way who needed to change their way of life. Most probably would just note it as a noble thing and then forget it.
He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."
I paged through the rest of the newspaper.

Never have I felt more ensconced in a decadent society; never more akin to the Christians in first century Rome.

Here was the review of Martin Scorsese's newest movie, which our family felt sure would have all the gore, violence, and sex that was not included in the original Hong Kong movie he had copied.

There was the special magazine called something inane like "Be Who You Are" with a photo of Rose O'Donnell and her partner, arms around one another, their wedding rings prominently displayed. Inside was one article after another, featuring as many celebrities as possible, that glorified living the gay lifestyle.

Reports abounded of trials for all sorts of horrible crimes, many committed against the most vulnerable in our society. It went on and on.

All this was against a backdrop of those two girls offering up their lives for their friends. Never had it been so glaringly obvious that it is important for Christians to remain the leaven, the yeast, that Christ called for. We are called to be the witnesses through our actions and our words that there is a way of freedom that many have forgotten; that some truths are absolute.
I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.
Malcolm Muggeridge
I daresay that all Christians recognize the absolute truth in Muggeridge's words. The mystery is that just as they contain absolute truth, that truth is translated in different ways to different people ... God deals with each of our unique souls in the way that we understand best.

We can't tell from moment to moment in what way we will be called to witness to that truth. If it is simply through living a Christian life as best we can by not snarling at the person who cuts into line ahead of us on a bad day, speaking up to a close friend about a touchy subject that may change forever how they view us, or stepping up to offer ourselves as a sacrifice.

That is the way that we make sure those who need the message aren't allowed to forget the example they are being given by the grieving but forgiving Amish. We repeat it over and over and over ... through our actions, our words, and our lives. Until they are encountering Christ's truth and love everywhere they turn.

It is not easy. Especially since sometimes the people that need to be reminded so desperately of Christ are the ones we see in the mirror. But we are called to be saints. Both for our own sakes and that of the people around us.

Those two girls were superbly equipped to live Christ's truth in every way. I pray that my own children are as well equipped for the trials they encounter in their lives. I pray that I am.

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