“Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!” This is what comes to my mind every time I hear about another mass shooting like what took place at Parkland High School in Florida. I am so tired of picking up a newspaper or hearing another story about an individual picking up a weapon and killing innocent children in a place where there should be an expectation of safety and security. My heart breaks for these students and their families. We pray for healing and recovery for the injured and for peace for the families of those slain.
I am also so very tired of the political heads who use these occasions to call for stricter gun control laws – as if that will fix everything. Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Cain didn’t need a gun to kill Abel. His descendant, Lamech, didn’t need a gun either. And all you have to do is look to Chicago to see that gun control does not stop bad people from getting guns and doing bad things with them. I can remember when I was in high school in the late 1970s. There wasn’t a pickup truck in the parking lot of the high school that didn’t have at least one rifle or shotgun hanging in the back window. I can even remember seeing one of my friends talking to the principal of our school at his truck, taking out his new rifle, and demonstrating the action. And not one student was ever shot at our school.
I know that this is not terribly politically correct, and for those that are offended by this I want you to know that I love you with all of my hearts and I would die to defend your right to disagree with me – but before you do, would you finish reading my thoughts. Immediately after an incident like this, people start pointing fingers trying to assess blame. They target our educators who are often overworked and underpaid but who are expected to serve as parent, teacher, counselor, parole officer, and a dozen other jobs without receiving the support of a political system that will hang them out to dry if they say or do the “wrong thing.” If that isn’t enough, the next easy target is our mental health workers. Like the teachers, they are stretched so thin that it is no wonder that people slip through the cracks. They lack the resources – and sometimes the training – to do a thankless job that few of us would endeavor to do. Parents ultimately find themselves in the crosshairs, and for some, rightly so. The parenting skills of so many in our world today consist of putting your child in front of a television or video game screen where they are bombarded with images of violence and gore to the point that these young people become numb to it all and the value of any human life drops to zero. And we need to remember that the Bible places the ultimate responsibility for all of this squarely on the parent’s shoulders: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will never depart” (Proverbs 22:6). But we are at a point where the current generation of parents were not trained by their parents or their parents’ parents, and that results in a new generation that has no clue.
Target after target, the blame is cast — so much that surely something will stick somewhere. Even God becomes fair game. Why would a good God allow this to happen? Why doesn’t God do something about all of this? The answer to the first question will never satisfy most people because the same people that suggest God should take control of a shooter’s trigger finger would balk at the thought of Him forcing His will on them. How dare God force me to do this or that! And it is simply because God has given His ultimate creation the freedom to choose our actions that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve and has multiplied throughout the generations to the point that we are suffering the consequences of a sinful, sin-filled world. Yes, bad things do happen to good people because we are the inheritors of a sin nature that when left to itself will do bad things to good people.
The answer to the second question may be more offensive than my answer to the first: God did do something. Two thousand years ago, He sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross, taking the sins of all mankind upon Himself – becoming sin itself so that it would be put to death on the cross – so that all who would accept that sacrifice as being for their sins, believe that Jesus died on the cross but rose again on the third day, and confess that He is Sovereign Lord over all creation, but more importantly, over their own lives, will be forgiven of sin and made into new creations where they then have the ability to stand against their own sin nature. That is good news, but along with that good news comes great responsibility. You see, the second half of the answer to that second question is that God has done something to combat the evil that would send a 17-year-old into a school with a semi-automatic rifle to kill innocent children. He saved you and me. He saved us and He commanded us to go into the world and make disciples teaching them to observe all the things that He has commanded us to do. It is our responsibility to come alongside these parents and these mental health workers and these educators reminding them that this isn’t a gun problem. It’s a sin problem. The only hope that we have of changing this is to recognize that this is a spiritual battle that will only be won in the spiritual realm. We must take up the weapons of our warfare (Ephesians 6) and fight the battle on our knees and in our churches and in our homes and in our schools. We must share the gospel to win the lost to Christ and then we must disciple/train parents to train their children in the ways they should go, and when they are older, they will not pick up a gun to shoot innocent children.
I know that some who read this will argue that mental disease is real and that spiritual solutions will not resolve this issue. First, I believe that some mental issues are the result of sin – original sin as well as the sins of the fathers and the children. If our mental health workers could recognize this and rely on those who understand the concept of spiritual warfare, they would find greater success in dealing with their patients. Second, I know that if Christians would truly be the hands and feet of Jesus, those suffering from true mental illness would find compassionate treatment and the help that they need before they arrive at the point where they commit murder. Either way, God has done something to stop these horrible events: He created you.