Last Sunday’s tragic mass murder at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX, has stirred a wide array of emotions across the country. I would like to mention just three of the main stances taken by Americans on this event:
1. Many people are truly sympathetic and simply praying for healing and comfort for the victims and their families.
2. Others are distraught and reflect on the age-old question of “why God allows bad things to happen to good people.”
3. Still others, sadly, have used the tragedy to push their own personal agendas for gun-control or the broken legal system which allowed a convicted man to legally obtain guns.
Stance number 1, I believe, is in the majority and I hope and pray that this tragic event will raise feelings of empathy and love for our fellow men. This is the stance that Christ would want us to take.
Stance number 2 is not necessarily a bad option either. While Christians KNOW God is in ultimate control of this world, it is difficult for us to fend off the feelings of inequity when we see “bad” things happen to “good” people. We are brought up to believe that righteous behavior will lead to God’s favor and, while Scripture certainly teaches us that we should seek wisdom and strive to live righteous lives, it also teaches us that “bad consequences” on this earth can be the result of righteous living. NO ONE has ever been as Righteous as Jesus Christ, yet He died a completely underserved death at the hands of the wicked. Most historians and theologians believe that all but one of the original twelve disciples was painfully executed for their righteous behaviors. Being a “good” person is no guarantee of a healthy and pleasant life on this earth. Jesus repeatedly warned His disciples that they would face persecution for His sake. Like the disciples, we must recognize and accept that our faith is no guarantee against physical maladies, accidents, or evil events occurring in this life. As sad and confused as this may make us, it is sometimes good to ponder the question of evil seemingly triumphing over good – if we ponder it in prayer, it can serve to enhance our faith and assurance that God has a plan, His plan is perfect, and we need to trust Him.
Stance number 3 is simply disgraceful. Advocates of gun control were trumpeting this event within hours after it occurred. Within two days reporters had dug up the history of the shooter and publicly blamed the Air Force for failing to properly notify civilian authorities of the shooter’s court martial proceedings which, they claim, allowed the shooter to legally purchase guns. Many more politicians jumped on the “blame bandwagon” and tried to turn the event into a hallmark of the current administration’s failed policies and lack of concern for human life. None of these responses are really new; you can find them all rooted in Genesis 3 where we find the advent of “pride” (the original sin), and Adam’s invention of “the blame game” (the woman YOU gave me…).
So, you see, the concept of blaming someone else for “bad” things is as old as humanity itself…Eve blamed the Serpent, Adam blamed God. The question which faces us today is whether we will remain prideful and insist on blaming someone (even God) or something (our environment, circumstances, etc.) OR choose the path God calls us to take and trust that God has a purpose, a plan, and an unfailing, eternal love for His people. Our country is rapidly losing sight of what made us, at one time, the greatest country on earth – our Christian heritage and the foresight of the founding fathers to base our country’s governance on God’s teachings. I urge you to all join me in praying 2 Chronicles 7:14 as God told Israel how to solve their wrecked nation: If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
-Pastor Dave Jones