I couldn't even begin to think coherently yesterday but a lot of thoughts swirled through my head. I am sure there will be many eloquent essays written asking "why" but I already know the answer to that question. Simply saying "Why? Sin." is easy but it is also true. The more pertinent question is "what now?". So what follows are a string of random thoughts that I have been wrestling with.
Yesterday was one of those days when theology becomes visceral. It is one thing to loftily speak of total depravity as a concept that fits into your theological system but it is quite another to see it live streaming on the internet. Most people are poorly equipped to react to something like this, even church goers who get a happy clappy Jesus that wants you to live your best life now. Well guess what, for those outside of Christ a world where children are murdered is as good as it is going to get. That should get us off our collective butts and out of our pews to go to the world where this ugliness and horror is happening daily. Satan is being given all the room he wants to operate while we cower inside of our churches, safe in our Sunday best with the sanctuary decorated for Christmas, anxiously looking at our watch until the hour is up and we can scamper back behind the safety of our locked doors while the world literally goes to hell so long as it does so "somewhere else". As yesterday showed, even in a town with a median income near six figures and every comfort of suburban life the enemy is not absent. We shrug off demonic possession in the Bible as a sort of embarrassing thing that happened back in those days and search for some psychological reason for these events but people like Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson and Adam Lanza are proof that something ill, something ancient and evil, still stalks the land.
It was also a day where the mind recoils from the horror of what happened. As you think through the implications of a school where children have to return at some point and hold class in a room where their classmates were murdered, of homes with presents wrapped beneath trees that will never be opened, of police trying to clear a building and coming across a room full of murdered children, of a high school graduation where 20 young people will be absent you cannot help but weep. The mind flees from such imagery and thought. Like 9/11 it was a day where we can only cry out to God. Unlike Columbine or Virginia Tech these were little children and even the most hardened of us cannot help but be overcome with sadness. For Christians we should be driven to prayer and worship. For others? I can only imagine impotent rage against a dead madman.
Social media provides an outlet for days like yesterday, both for people to pour out the anguish we all feel and also unfortunately to create a platform for all sorts of political ugliness and errant theological foolishness. For every ten things I saw that encouraged and strengthened me I saw something utterly inane or dangerous. Sadly too many of that stuff came from Christians. The shooting at Sandy Hook was used by some as a platform to tout homeschooling, people who believe as I do standing over the bodies of dead children to crow about the superiority of our school choice. Disgusting and shameful! My children are not going to be killed in a school shooting but there is a far greater danger, the danger of them seeing less righteous people who go to "public schools" as poor saps to be pitied. Other Christians wasted no time tweeting about the need for gun control, standing over the bodies of children to pontificate about how enlightened they are on this question. Arrogant fools!
Anyone who thinks that gun control measures are the answer here is just simply being foolish. When I was in school we had fire drills and tornado drills. The idea of someone shooting up our school never even crossed our minds and virtually everyone I knew growing up had guns in their home. Criminalizing something is not a deterrent to criminals. That is what makes them criminals in the first place, a willingness to ignore the law. Something has gone off the rails in America, something that tells a few unhinged individuals among a narcissistic people that being upset at someone else is a green light to shoot up a school or gun down a Congresswoman or whatever other way people act out. Life itself has lost value. The answer is not ending abortion, laudable as that goal is. Nor banning video games, no matter how convenient and cheap a way to score points saying that might be. Not even "putting God back in the schools", as if He needs our permission. No, the answer is Jesus and Christians talking to the lost one at time. It is hard work, it is often frustrating work but easy and quick mass fixes are not the answer.
Many people spoke yesterday of a special place in hell for Adam Lanza. While it is true that the killing of children is especially abhorrent to God I wonder how many of those wishing for Adam Lanza to burn in hell are on that very same path themselves? How many Christians expressed the same thought when as followers of Christ who have been plucked from the fire like a brand (Zec 3:2) we were headed for the very same fate as this murderer of children? I don't wish hell on a single person because I would spend eternity in hell and just as deservedly as Adam Lanza were it not for the sovereign intervention of God. God will exact vengeance in perfect justice, Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19). Our role here is not to demand divine retribution. God has that under control and His perfect will is always done. Our role here is to tell a hurting people that there is more than this life and that there is more to heaven than going to church and being a moral person. God has places us here at this time and in this place. What will we do? Will we squander this opportunity or will we stand up and tell people about Jesus? That matters far more than defending our 2nd Amendment rights or passing gun control legislation.