Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Remembering Columbine

No, this is not going to be a discussion of why homeschooling is an attractive alternative to the risk of school shootings. This isn't even the anniversary of Columbine, which not so incidentally was planned to occur on Hitler's birthday.

Shoot, it isn't even Wednesday, when I give myself permission to write off topic.

But I've been thinking about it all week after last week's discussion in our youth group of knowing God so intimately that you would be willing to die rather than renounce Him.

The first part of the lesson was about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. There are many stories in the Bible of people choosing to die rather than renounce their faith in God, but this is one of the most famous. It has echoed down to our time through, among other things, Negro Spirituals in the 19th century and Martin Luther King in the 20th.

Maybe you know the story of three young Jewish men thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to a gigantic statue of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. (Daniel, Chapter 3)

12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up."

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?"

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

The girls in our high school freshman group were only maybe 4 years old when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire on their teachers and classmates, killing 12 students and a teacher, and wounding 23 others before killing themselves. Though there is now considerable controversy about whether the subjects of the video, Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott, actually were shot because of their belief in God, it is clear from the testimony of family and friends, and from their own words, that both girls were serious Christians. Cassie's mother wrote a book, called She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, a candid chronicle of Cassie's transformation from, according to one reviewer,

"a sulking stranger, fascinated with murder, self-mutilation and witchcraft...destroying herself with hate and despair"
to one who passed a note to a friend on the morning of her death: "Honestly, I want to live completely for God, it's hard and scary but totally worth it."

When we started talking about her, we were going to play the 1999 Michael W. Smith anthem, "This is Your Time", but the laptop where it was stored was in the car. One of the girls offered to pull up a song on YouTube by the group Fly-Leaf (the video at the top of this post) that meant a lot to her about the Columbine event called "Cassie". This photo was taken as they watched the video above on a cell phone - with lyrics - spellbound and contemplating how they might react if faced with a similar choice. After the song was over, we also talked about Rachel Scott.

Though it is now believed that Harris and Klebold were actually targeting jocks, and that the others were just randomly selected, the story of a girl in this day and age loving God enough to die for what she believed in has provided much fodder for sermons, and sober consideration by many teenagers of how important it is to make those life or death decisions in advance.

NOW is the time to decide how important God is to you.

What would YOU do?

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