As I write this, the nation of America is reeling from a mass murder of elementary students and teachers. An 18-year-old walked into a school and killed at least 18 children under the age of ten and at least three teachers. I won’t rehash the gory details, others have done that. What I want to address is what I believe is the true cause of this heinous crime.
The hue and cry against guns has already begun, declaring that were the guns unavailable, this wouldn’t have happened. I’m not going to argue that point, either.
I want to look deeper to the WHY? What would cause an 18-year-old to plan and execute that plan to murder these children and teachers? The answer is simple, complex, and not at all trite.
The answer began before time was set apart. EVIL. The fallen angel who wanted to be like God. The one who is utterly and completely ANTI-GOD.
Being anti-God, the evil one is set on destroying anything that looks like, acts like, smells like, seems like God. Thus, he is set on destroying those who were created in God’s image. He is a tenacious foe with millennia of experience in planning and attacking. His first act against one of God’s image bearers was with a brother’s jealousy and a rock. The impetus behind every act of destruction — physical, mental, emotional — is the evil one who wants to destroy God, but cannot, so he strives to destroy those who bear His image. He does this through killing them or destroying their sanity so that they destroy others.
One of the ways this enemy of our souls has worked to destroy humankind is through the devaluing of human life. If people are not considered valuable, then killing them is no big deal. Enter abortion. Babies have long been seen as the hope of the family. Their birth a time of joy and excitement — even if the child were to be given in adoption. Hope and life are not things the enemy suffers well, so he has made a woman’s right to her body a battle cry, causing many to choose self over Life.
Pregnancies have become matters of inconvenience like infections that must be killed off to rid the body of the invasion. A baby’s life has been devalued to the level of an annoyance without consideration of all the consequences.
One of those consequences has been that all of life has been so devalued that the thought of harming another isn’t worthy of a thought. We have no problem putting ourselves first. Our wishes and desires matter more than yours is the prevalent thought, seen in every encounter from road rage to abuse to murder to storing the elderly out of sight and out of mind.
And listen, Believers, we’re not immune to this disease of evil. The Church didn’t battle evil when it came to their doorstep in 1973 because the Church had been invaded by evil and was doing the same things as those begging for the right to sin as big and bold as desired, consequences be damned.
Now we are reaping this harvest of death as lives are destroyed by the very evil we have refused to face for ages. The trouble is, we still refuse to see where the problem begins. It’s not the video games, the poor teaching, the bullying. It’s not the guns. It’s not even the people.
It’s the one who thinks he’s as good as or better than God.
What does that mean for the here and now? For believers it means we have to become aware of the evil in our midst and deal with it. We must look first within ourselves. We must ask God to examine us and remove anything that is in us that is not pleasing to Him.
We must then confront sin in the Church. We don’t get to condemn the people, but we must call them to confession and repentance. If they refuse that, we must step away from them, leaving them in the hands of God for His justice, salvation, and possible restoration.
We who say we are believers in Christ must rid ourselves of the sin that has wriggled its way into normalcy in our lives. Gluttony, lies, deceit, self-worship, gossip, fear-mongering, worry, and all anti-God choices must be confessed, repented, and walked away from as surely as we would walk away from poison. We must stop coddling sin as “well, that’s just how I am.” That is true. It is how you are, but in Christ you are a new creation, changed, different. No longer “just as you are.”
“But Jesus hung out with lowlifes like me!” Yes. Yes He did. The difference: they changed. They left behind their anti-God choices and changed. When we encounter the Risen One, we will change, too.
The mass shootings won’t stop until that which drives them is addressed. That begins in the Church — not the four walls of a building, but in the hearts and minds of those who say they follow Jesus. Only by turning to Him, obeying His commands completely, and following Him closely will we defeat the real one that killed those children and teachers.
It’s time to begin. It begins with each of us, individually, seeking God’s view of ourselves and making the changes necessary to align ourselves with Him.