Monday, November 6, 2017

Sutherland Springs, Texas

A shooting last year at a night club that catered to the homosexual community resulted in a tragic loss of life and was rightfully mourned by our nation. But it didn’t have a personal impact upon me, because I don’t frequent night clubs.

The shooting last month in Las Vegas at a country-music show was equally tragic. I paused to think of friends and family members who might attend such a venue from time to time, but again, it had minimal impact upon me.

And then there was a shooting at a close-knit Baptist church in a small Texas town. At last report, 26 people in that congregation, ranging in age from 18 months to 72 years, were killed. It included the Associate Pastor & his wife, and the teenage daughter of the Lead Pastor. Now this one hits close to home. Painfully close.

This is not a monologue on guns or mental health issues. These things need to be discussed in a rationale manner which might affect public policy. But that’s not where my thoughts take me today.

Today, I am considering how painful this event is for the survivors. For the family members. For the other church members. I cannot imagine suddenly and unexpectedly losing 26 members of my church family. I mourn every time one of our families moves away or decides to attend a different church. Let alone 26 such members. That’s just devastating.

Think about it. On a day we were celebrating 5 baptisms, singing songs of praise and contemplating what God’s Word has to say about our tendency to hide from God, our brothers and sisters in Christ 800 miles to our south were literally fighting for their lives. They had come to church to worship God and fellowship together. They had made plans for lunch after church. Some were looking forward to watching a few football games on TV. Some of them were planning on attending their kids’ soccer games.

And then a man—we can think of all sorts of adjectives to attach to that word (crazy, deranged, sinister, etc)—entered the church with evil intent, and carried out a massacre beyond our capacity to comprehend.

In the span of a few minutes, lives were taken, and those who survived would be forever changed. A place of worship became a place of sacrifice, the likes of which none of us can really imagine.

Much time and interest will be devoted to trying to figure out the motive for such a senseless killing. Maybe it was a domestic abuse situation on steroids. Maybe it was the result of untreated mental illness. But in the end, the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas occurred for the same reason as the killings in Orlando and Las Vegas. It doesn’t really matter the race or nationality or religion of the perpetrator. It doesn’t matter his country of origin or his political agenda. These events—differing in time and distance—all stem from the same problem. Evil lurks in the hearts of men. They may have different “reasons” for the outpouring of hatred and malice, but ultimately they spring from hearts turned against God.

Our prayers rise upward on behalf of those affected by this tragedy. And they rise upward on our behalf. Because wherever we go, whatever we do, sin & evil are there. They may not manifest themselves in mass murder, but they permeate every aspect of our lives. And while honest people debate the wisdom of laws affecting guns or mental health issues, the answer—the solution—ultimately lies in Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Christ alone.