We Cannot Trust in the Government to Save Us
Of course, Carroll says, he believes there are practical things that need to be done in light of these tragedies. People, like police officers, doctors, and mental health experts need to be trained and in place to help the local community.
Still, we can’t look to the government to fix all our problems. While Carroll firmly believes in a believer’s responsibility to pray about and vote for people and policies he or she feels best represents life and God’s principles, he doesn’t believe we can place our hope in “the government of this world to legislate morality or an absence of evil.” There is a big difference, he argues, between praying about who and what to vote for based on what best represents God’s heart, and placing trust in the government as the solution to evil. “To think that the government is the ultimate solution or that our government is going to consistently get it right would be ill-informed and ignorant,” Carroll summarizes.
This is why, when Carroll hears his congregants get “super fired up” about things like gun control or gun rights, he reminds them that “ultimately our hope is in the Lord.” Not only that, but putting energy and hope into building a kingdom that will eventually stand “against the Kingdom Jesus came to initiate” is not going to help us in the long run.
What Good Are Thoughts and Prayers?
As far as the argument that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough, Carroll agrees that “prayers are not enough if they don’t lead to action in pursuit of helping people.” And while he believes that prayer is a tool—a powerful tool—God has given us as believers, it is primarily a mode of communication whose purpose is insight and wisdom. God gave us prayer, Carroll believes, “primarily as a way to reshape who we are.”
Carroll has encouraged his congregation at City Church to be involved in the prayer vigils that are taking place across Dayton for the victims and their families. However, he is quick to point out that while he wants his congregation to be involved in the process of healing in the community, he doesn’t want to use the tragedy as a means to get the name of the church out there.
Carroll says he is not discouraged by the shooting, but there is a weariness in his voice. As the machine of political debate surrounding gun control churns into action once again, Carroll is hoping the church can stay focused on its role and not stumble over that same old stumbling block.