Here we go again.
For the second time in a week, an act of mass murder has knocked us back on our heels. Last week, it was the attack in New York City, where a man used a truck as a weapon to kill eight innocent people. Last Sunday, in Sutherland Springs, TX, a man opened fire on a congregation in a small church, killing twenty-six people.
Every time our country goes through this, we tend to go through a cycle of blame-shifting and politicizing, and we’re afraid for a little while. We want answers, and we want to be safe, naturally. We can hold the dead gunman to account for his actions, we can press charges against the driver of the truck, but these are at best reactions, and do little, if anything, to prevent the next attack.
What we must come to terms with is that we created this problem. Well, maybe not us, directly, but we have contributed. The top two television shows in our country in 2017 are Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, both of which feature story lines with high body counts. Death and killing are the norm on those shows. The top two video games of the year (so far) are “Wildlands,” and “For Honor,” games that require the player to engage in killing. The latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor: Ragnarok, while mostly “bloodless,” has a very high body count. Many people die violent deaths in the movie.
Killing and violence are the norms in our culture, and we, as the Church of Jesus Christ, must counter this. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about life and life eternal. Before we ever get to the discussion over whether this kind of killing is a gun control problem or a mental health issue, we need to come to grips with the fact that it is a sin issue.
What can we do?
- First, we can turn off the violence. Just stop watching and playing. Keep an eye on what your kids are playing and watching. Don’t let death and killing become a normal part of their cultural experience – and it shouldn’t be part of our any of ours, really.
- Second, we need to share the good news. People need to know that God loves them. This has never been more important.
- And finally, we need to pray. Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:12 that prior to his return, that the love of most (people) would grow cold. These mass killings are clear evidence of such coldness.
My hope and prayer are that his return is soon.