Friday, December 14, 2012

On A Day When All The Questions Begin With "Why?"


More details will no doubt emerge about the latest mass killing.  And the questions are being asked today, like they do every time we hear of something like this - whether at a high school, a movie theater, a shopping mall, a post office, or wherever - are the same, despite the "new" level of evil that involved shooting up elementary school children - and the questions invariably start with "why?"

And we fail, every time, to point out the real problem - a culture that is thoroughly morally depraved in every way imaginable.  Further, most of us who do recognize the real problem most often do so without taking responsibility for our own contributions.  It is much too easy for most people to point fingers and pin blame on everything and everyone else except themselves.

Now let me be clear:  As is always the case, the "blame" if you will is to be placed on those responsible - apparently, the actions of 1 or maybe 2 individuals.  You and I are not responsible for this cruel killer's actions, nor is any other individual except the one who took the lives of so many innocent people, mostly very young children (and possibly any accomplices who assisted and/or knew what was about to take place).  Only the killer is ultimately responsible.  Not the culture, not the people killed, not gun control laws, not guns themselves, not even people who could have or should have recognized warning signs in such a person.   It is the individual and their choices to take evil actions that are responsible.

Yet why is it that every time this happens, the general public, the media, and so on, refuse to accept this truth?  Because it means that we would have to acknowledge that there really is an incredible, terrible, awful, destructive, disgusting, horrid, totally depraved power at work in our world - we call it evil.  We don't want to face it.  We'd rather play the deflect-and-blame-game.  And the biggest reason why we don't want to face it, is because while few of us would call ourselves evil, we know, deep inside, that evil has another name - sin.  And all of us know we have sinned.  And there is no way we are going to connect our sin with the abhorrent evil that we see around us.

But the trouble is, they are very much connected.  This kind of unfathomable evil (or is it really unfathomable anymore, the more and more we see of it?) is the work of the devil, who is the one who introduced sin and evil into our world (and we - humanity - opened the door wide open and invited him inside), and we must name that evil power for what and for who it is.

You may not believe there is a devil.  You may not believe there is a God.  But I defy you to believe there is no such thing as evil.  If you can't see that on a day like today, with news like this, and with the increasing frequency of such horrible, tragic events, then there is simply no getting through to you at all.

We *must* defeat evil - defeat *sin.*

And yet we live in a culture which has wholeheartedly accepted and endorsed virtually any and every kind of sin as good, right, and perfectly acceptable.  Further, many churches and Christians do the same.  Even many of those churches and Christians who don't appear outwardly to endorse the sins and evils of our culture and who "stand" for "truth" preach a gospel in which it is understood that all of us, without question, without exception, and without the ability to choose, must sin "every day in word, thought, and deed."  The blood of Jesus, the gospel of the Kingdom, effectively does nothing for us except to give us an excuse for our sins that "those other people" don't have - and oh yes, it punched a ticket to heaven for us.

The killer is responsible for the killings.

But we all are responsible for the culture and environment in which such a horrific display of evil is allowed to ferment in someone's heart until the point where it overflows and claims the lives of so many innocent children, permanently scarring so many others, and breaking the hearts of parents  and families all over a community and a nation.

So the questions being asked today that all begin with "why..." can be answered.  The real question is, do we want to answer them?  Because ultimately we are the answer, if we submit our lives to the one true God, Jesus Christ, and allow Holy Spirit to be fully in control of them.  It is called holiness.  Or said another way, love.  Love is the answer to defeat such evil - such sin.  And love is most clearly expressed through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

It is this time of year that we focus on Jesus' birth.  My prayer is that a new spirit will be birthed in all of us - in individuals, in families, in communities, in churches, in our governments, in our culture - a spirit that fights the powers of evil and sin instead of acquiescing to them, a spirit that will transform the culture on every level, so much so that it would no longer be possible for such evil-hearted people who commit such devastatingly sinful actions to incubate, finally arriving at the place where the overflow of their hearts destroys the lives of so many.  But instead it would be a culture of self-sacrificing love where God's will is our first priority, where the Kingdom of God becomes more and more a reality, and where forgiveness and love triumph over darkness and evil.  That is Jesus' way, and it is the only way we will triumph in the end.

"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."

--Matthew 6:9-13