The Connecticut School Shootings: What Can We Say?
I just felt that we needed to say something about the slaughter at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown yesterday. A killing of not only adults, which is horrid enough, but of children. Little children in their school. And why? For what possible reason? Do these evils have anything to do with the evils we work with on this blog? I don’t know. I suspect there are links. I do know that in both arenas we are dealing with evil.
John 8:44 ESV You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
A murderer from the beginning of time. He is the same one who was behind the slaughter of the innocents in the days of Jesus’ nativity. And in some way we know he is behind what happened in Newtown yesterday. Only the powers of darkness could be capable of the unspeakable. And yet, those powers use people. Evil people who are so often described as being ” a nice guy.” Or “troubled, but who would have thought he could do this?”
So what can we say?
First, many of these cases demonstrate what abuse victims know all too well (but of which the larger part of the Christian church seems to be in denial) — namely, that evil can appear as an angel of light. I don’t know what Adam Lanza was like. Some news reports are saying he was into the black “gothic” look. Perhaps a genius. But apparently no one thought that he was capable of anything like the mass murder of children. Why else would a military-type assault rifle and at least two semi-automatic handguns be available to him in his own home? We don’t know. Maybe we never will. But evil can parade in many disguises. A man really can look like a fine Christian, for example, and yet terrorize his wife at home.
And then there is this whole matter of reaping what we have sown. I don’t mean that abuse victims have sown and thus are reaping the harvest of their own doings. No. What I mean is that as a people, as a nation, we are experiencing increasingly intense and shocking forms of violence without restraint. When we think of suicide bombers, we think of some dusty little Arab country where people worship Allah. But if Adam Lanza had been able to obtain a suicide vest filled with plastic explosive, why would he not have used it? It is the very same mentality it seems. The spirit that animates Al Queda seems to have crossed the waters to America.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:21-25)
God gave them up. That is what happens to a people who say “No God for us!” He hands them over to the lusts of their own hearts. God says to such a nation, “Alright. You want life without Me? I will give you a taste of it.” And He just steps back. I think that is what is happening in our country today and I think that is what is happening in many of our churches. The result is the increase of sin and injustice and murder and wickedness, and the roll of victims grows.
When a nation excludes the Creator, the God of the Bible, from its life, death sweeps in. Cut yourself off from Light and you are going to find yourself in darkness. Teach children that they are mere organisms who happened into existence billions of years ago by chance, apart from the creative activity of God, provide them with access to the grossest forms of evil and sin in the name of freedom of speech, produce graphically shocking forms of violent recreation for them to pursue for hours each day, throw in a mix of drugs and alcohol – and just what do we think the resulting cocktail is that we are all going to be drinking? Oh, and then there is this matter of Christ and the gospel. That must never be in the recipe. And certainly it must never be in the classroom.
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
Peter said: “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ ” ( 1 Peter 4:17-18)
I am not sure that I understand entirely what this means. But I do think that it means at least this: As we look at the horrors of yesterday’s shootings, we as Christians need to look at ourselves. We must not just say “well, there is the evil of the world.” No. It is time for judgment to begin, and it needs to begin with US. Reform needs to begin with the church. Repentance needs to be sparked first within the church. If the church, which is supposed to be the light of the world, is blind — how great is the darkness!
And I suppose that is the main lesson I take away from all of this. When it comes to evil within its own ranks, the church seems to be blind in so many cases. Blind to the sufferings of victims. Blind to the disguises of wicked people. And for this we have no excuse.