A week ago from today I heard that there had been a school shooting. I listened to the news report about some place I had never heard of in Connecticut and some very limited details about a shooter in a school and how it was believed that there had been casualties. As the specific details of the day began rolling in and I became aware that most of the victims of the massacre were around the age of my daughter I literally wanted to throw up...I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of complete vulnerability I felt and how I immediately wanted to see and hug my little girl.
There were so many godly, wise Christian leaders that wrote about the tragedy within hours of it taking place...and I was SO thankful for them doing so as I must confess it caused me to wrestle with some of the deep issues of my own faith. However, I decided not to write about it until I had taken some time to reflect on it so that I could write down what I had personally taken away from the unthinkable situation that took place.
Here are three things...
#1 - We Live In A Fallen World Where Evil Is Not Just A Mere Concept But Rather A Harsh Reality
From time to time there will be a debate on whether or not "absolute truth" exists or not. Self professed intellectual giants have tried to assert that there is no such thing, saying that we cannot say something is flat out "wrong;" after all, what might be wrong for one person isn't necessarily wrong for another. However, I found it to be quite peculiar as this group of people were quite silent after this event as I am sure that no one with a three digit IQ would not agree that this event was one of the most obvious manifestations of evil that this generation has ever seen.
We live in a fallen world--Newtown is evidence of that. AND...I hate, hate, hate to say this...but we are going to see tragedies such as these again and again.
I can vividly remember sitting in front of my television in 1999 watching the story of Columbine High School unfold before my eyes and for weeks after hearing the politicians and experts say that we need to come up with ways to make sure that something like that never happened again. If that was their goal then they failed pretty miserably because "mass massacres" have continued to increase since that time.
As long as we live we are going to have to live with the reality that our world is fallen...and not just through seeing things such as the Newtown shooting but earthquakes, floods, famines and tsunami's. If the world (according to the evolutionary argument) is supposed to be moving towards perfection then something terrible has happened because we are way off course.
Political people on both sides of the argument regarding legislation of guns and such were all over this incident within hours of it taking place (which I found to be pathetic!) AND...I am NOT trying to make a political statement here and so you can save your email...but I would love to simply say something that I have said for years, we cannot legislate morality. Sin/evil is an issue of the heart. The very first murder recorded in the Bible is found in Genesis 4:6-8. We see in verse seven of this text that God tells Cain that he must master sin...but Cain chooses to submit to evil and murders his brother at a time when there were no weapons.
We can point fingers and try to find someone/something to blame all day long. Yes, sin exists and we will always deal with the consequences of it until Jesus comes back. Yes, there are way more violent video games and tv shows and movies than there were 20 years ago...and anyone who is intellectually honest would have to agree that there is some sort of correlation. And yes, the media has a hand in this as well and they often take the killer and put their picture on TV and talk about them so much that they definitely get way more than their 15 minutes of fame. (And even in the case of the Newtown shooting where the killer killed himself--others see it and we have to agree that it effects decisions.) AND...in my opinion, when we combine all of these things with the fact that evil exists in this world then the potential for a human being to do atrocious things to other people is unlimited.
#2 - This World Needs Jesus More Than Ever Before.
People have asked me after seeing this tragedy take place, "why doesn't God just wipe out all evil and suffering in this world?" And my response has been, "He's going to! One day He's going to return and change it all. There will be no more suffering, no more tragic school shootings, no more sex slave trade and human trafficking, no more political corruption...one day!"
BUT...until that time comes it is up to those of us who know Christ to do whatever it takes to get the message of the Gospel out to this world...because while the government can change laws only JESUS can change a heart...and a heart change is what is needed in the lives of people if we are to see events such as these decrease in the future.
I've got to admit that when this took place my faith was shaken! Maybe I'm just not as godly as people who didn't struggle...but in my heart I asked the question, "why God?"
And when I did I automatically got a picture in my mind of the cross and was reminded that if ANYONE understands tragedy, pain, suffering and the innocent dying it's Jesus!
I was reminded by the cross that even when things seem to be completely chaotic and out of control that God is still in control!!!
I was reminded by the cross that God can take the more horrible, tragic event and in His time turn it into something more amazing than we could ever understand. After all, He took a blood stained cross and turned it into an empty tomb...and Hebrews 13:8 says He is always the same and so I must believe He can do it again.
And I was reminded that my circumstances should not dictate my belief in God but rather my belief in God should dictate how I respond to circumstances.
ONLY JESUS can bring about the change that this world desperately needs and longs for!! Which leads to my last point...
#3 - People Are Still Interested In The Local Church--And The Church Has More Work To Do Than Ever Before.
When this tragedy took place people did not flock to the local chapter of skeptics and atheists but rather local churches!!! And while many of them came confused, hurt and with questions...they STILL came to the church!!
The church has been commanded by God to take the message of the GOSPEL to a world that is desperate, hurting and confused when it comes to events such as these. And during times like this the church should not back down but should rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And...we should not feel the pressure to immediately provide the correct theological explanations for this tragedy, but rather should allow people to grieve and ask questions. One of the biggest mistakes that well meaning Christ followers make is to try to explain everything that happens in the world instead of just being with people while they grieve and admitting that things such as these rock us to the core at times as well.
This world needs HOPE!!! This world needs to know that in the middle of complete chaos that PEACE is possible. This world needs to know that there is a God who understands PAIN better than we realize and does not run FROM people in pain but rather runs to them.
AND THE CHURCH HAS BEEN COMMISSIONED WITH THAT MESSAGE!!!
We've not been asked to keep it to a certain group of people who mostly look how we look and believe what we believe. We've not been asked to tell the world that this is what it deserves because they kicked God out of the schools! We've not been asked to try to withdraw to safe places where bad things never happen!!!
We don't run from PAIN and SUFFERING, we should run towards it!!!
I am not sure if this particular post has helped anyone, but it was extremely helpful for me to write my thoughts down and get out what I felt has been in my heart all week long. I believe in Jesus and His church more than ever before...and believe that the churches calling has NEVER been more obvious and important!