Remembering Gospel Truths Amidst Evil

by Michael Nelson July 14, 2022

Mass shootings are no longer rare events in our nation.  Many will remember the shootings at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, Virginia Technical University on April 7, 2007, Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14, 2012, or at Parkland High School only 4 years ago.  When these events occurred, there was shock among many in our nation.  Questions such as, “How could something like this happen?” or “Who could do something like this?” filled our minds.  But now, we look back and think of the shootings in Buffalo, NY, Uvalde, TX, Highland Park, IL, the mass shootings that occurred over the weekend of June 4th-5th, and it is becoming commonplace.  

As we continue to hear about these sorts of atrocities, we must not become numb to what is happening across the country.  It is easy to blame others, call for new gun regulations, and examine our mental health structure as these events continue to happen.  These discussions need to take place.  But before we move straight to solutions, we must realize that those involved are real people.  They are sons and daughters of men and women like you and me.  Families are connected to these victims and many are hurting.  As we reflect on these types of events, let us never separate ourselves from the connection that we have with other human beings before we come up with an explanation or a solution.  Instead, let us consider how we ought to process these sorts of events as Christians before an unbelieving world.  

Evil is Real

First, as Christians, let us remember that evil is real.  Though most of us recoil in horror at the thought that anyone would ever be able to even think about killing someone, there are others who have given into the wicked tendencies of their hearts to commit such atrocities.  With sin entering the world through our first parents, we see murder as early as Genesis 4 with the story of Cain and Abel.  Since this murder, we have seen countless acts of evil occur throughout human history and we see no signs of it letting up.  As men and women allow their consciences to be seared to the truth (1 Tim. 4:2), we see that God gives them over to a depraved mind (Rom. 1:28).  So, we rightly call these events evil, as what occurs comes as a result of the continued suppression of the reality and truth of who our God is.  

Sin is Irrational

Second, as Christians, let us remember that sin is irrational.  This kind of evil is inexplicable and beyond our understanding.  According to the Department of Homeland Security, many of these mass shooters open fire due to “personal grievances, reactions to current events, and adherence to violent extremist ideologies.”  Whatever the reason, to open fire on a group of innocent people is irrational.  But at its core, all sin is irrational.  Consider what James 1:14-15 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”  For many perpetrators, the desire to enact “justice” as a form of payback for “injustice” is a rational thought.  Many of us long for justice for our own misfortunes.  But this desire is not rational at all. After it was conceived, it brought forth sin, and the sin, at its fullest, brought about death. Let us never find ourselves entrapped by the lusts of our sinful desires, because sin, though irrational, has a way of presenting itself as the best solution to us for our problems.  

Jesus is Our Only Hope

Third, as Christians, let us remember that Jesus is our only hope.  On the surface of it, that statement might appear to be a little trite.  But it isn’t.  It’s true.  Jesus is our only hope.  In the conversation of life and death and sin and evil, Jesus must be the focal point.  Jesus came to live, die and rise again so that we would be forgiven, but also so that as Paul says in Romans 6:6, “we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”  Ultimately it was the enslaving power of sin that led to these evil acts.  But then, in addition to this, Jesus provides us with the only hope we can have beyond the grave for these many victims.  For all who are in Christ will one day be resurrected to new life, with all justice finally served and all tears and heartaches wiped away.  When Jesus is the focal point of our conversation on tragedy, we have the confidence to cry out, “Come Lord Jesus,” as we trust in a savior who has overcome the world. 

Let us weep as we mourn the loss of human life.  Though many of us may not know these victims personally, they were people with hopes and dreams and families and friends just like you and me.  Let us pray for those connected with these mass shootings.  Pray that the love of Jesus Christ and the comfort that can only come from His gospel would be proclaimed.  But also pray for churches in the area of these shootings as they seek to minister Christ in the face of such events.  Beyond this, let these events remind us that this world is not our home.  We live in a place where evil runs rampant and sin dwells in the hearts of many.  We are mere sojourners passing through this world, proclaiming the hope of the world to come, with our eyes fixed on Jesus.

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