This weekend was a tragic one in the US.
Two mass shootings–in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, have left 29 killed, scores injured, and all of us traumatized on some level.
During a speech in Dayton yesterday by a local politician, she was shouted down by people in the crowd chanting “DO Something”!
It was a very understandable sentiment.
In cases like this, we want–obviously–for someone, somewhere to ‘Make It Stop’!
This is a multi-faceted problem, and no ‘one solution’ is going to change it.
In these cases, there are always calls for gun control legislation, or the outright banning of guns altogether (at least, ‘assault weapons’). Again, this is understandable…and, in my opinion, reasonable. I, personally, agree that there should be regulations on who can get a gun. Background checks should be more coordinated, and I believe ‘red flag laws’ should be passed. However, in a surprising number of these incidents, the shooter obtained their weapons legally, after submitting to background checks. They’d never had ‘major run-ins’ with the law…so something else is wrong.
Some blame politicians…they don’t have the will to stand up to powerful interest groups, or they don’t do enough to ‘bring us together’. In these cases this week, President Trump is being blamed, for being ‘divisive’ and creating an ‘atmosphere of hatred’. Surely, we do need politicians and leaders–in particular, our President, to inspire us to unity. However, it does need to be considered: Do those who blame our current President for these acts also blame President Obama for the (approximately) 20 mass shootings that happened when he was in office? Probably not…and they shouldn’t! Politicians can certainly influence us, as can actors, sports personalities, musicians and anyone else’s opinions we care about (even Pastors!). Yes, we could use more of these people to inspire us to unity, love and sacrifice.
But would that stop these people who are bent on inflicting hate and violence? Probably not. In fact, for most of them, they seem to be fighting an internal battle.
Some blame Mental Health care…and some blame the medications that have been prescribed as part of the Mental Health care!
Honestly, this is a truly vexing problem…and each and every one of these issues already listed deserve some of the ‘blame’ and responsibility.
However, it must be said…the mere availability of a ‘means’ does not predict the ‘ends‘. In other words, an inanimate object–a gun–cannot do anything, by itself. Clearly, something within these people is ‘broken’ and in need of repair…and laws, politicians, and musicians can’t change that.
Tom Brokaw tweeted today: “Ok America-what are we going to do? It’s about more than guns. It’s about poisonous hate in social media; about hate in the political arena, about ‘gotcha’ in mass media. The center has been replaced by hate. So, now what?”
President Trump said last night, “Hate has no place in our country.”
I would love to say ‘I agree’, but clearly that is not the case! Hate has been welcomed in and celebrated–by people on both sides of this issue, and many others!
So…into this discussion, I’d like to add my own contribution:
Yup, old-fashioned evil…politically incorrect evil…it is real, it is active, and it is very much involved.
Evil shows itself in the little things–like hateful speech and angry Facebook postings–and it shows in the big things–like hatred, prejudice, violence and murder.
Evil has been around since the dawn of time, and it continues today. In fact, in many ways, it’s gotten worse–because our culture has stopped calling things ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Those phrases, we are told, are old-fashioned and archaic.
However, the Scriptures speak to evil within the hearts of all of us…and no law, no politician, and not one Facebook post will change that!
Each one of us has the potential for evil feelings, motives, and actions…and that, ultimately, is where any hope for change lies.
To a culture that has turned its back on God, on the wisdom of the Scriptures, and on the love of Jesus Christ, I would simply add this:
“All have sinned, all fall short of the glory of God, but are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)
“God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not die, but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, could be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
Ultimately, I am firmly convinced that the ‘change’ we’re seeking happens on an individual, heart level. It happens as we repent of and confess our own sin and sinfulness, and turn to Him in faith, letting Him begin the process of changing us each, from within.
It then continues into the daily cooperation with the Holy Spirit’s work within, yielding ourselves to His influence and ‘relentlessly pursuing an ever-deepening relationship with God’.
Galatians 5 describes this process: (Galatians 5:16-23)
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions…
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
I absolutely agree that we should discuss multi-faceted approaches to stopping this kind of violent hatred…but hatred comes from evil in the heart, first and foremost…and we simply can’t hope for any real change if we don’t deal with that first.
We simply must repent, and turn back to God!