Sad. Unnerved. Hyper-alert. Angry. Fearful.
That’s what I felt after hearing about the Wal-Mart shooting in Colorado and the church shooting in Texas. Bam, bam. One shooting took place right after the other. I was hardly able to catch my breath from the Las Vegas shooting before the Wal-Mart shooting took place. Then I was hardly able to catch my breath from the Wal-Mart shooting before the Texas shooting took place.
When I stepped into Wal-Mart earlier this week, I became suspicious when I laid eyes on a young male with scruffy hair, dressed like a Hobo, sporting a black backpack. What exactly was in the backpack, and why was he walking fast, like he was exercising around a race track, head down, refusing to make eye contact? The entire time, I found it difficult to concentrate on my list of items to buy. I began checking out people around me in a way I wouldn’t normally. I was edgy and irritable. More doubtful of my neighbors. Angry at humanity. Indescribably sad for the families who lost their babies, their Grandma, their brother, friend, father, mother, and preacher. And fearful. Not only of possibly becoming a victim someday, but of the direction our culture has taken.
Some days, it feels I am living in a foreign country. Certainly not the country I grew up in. Not the country I want my grandkids to grow up in, if massacres keep taking place, if we can’t be free to worship or walk a grocery aisle without fear.
I recognize I am spoiled. Many people around the world have never felt safe. Many have never felt cared for or free. But America has very often been the country to provide relief to those suffering around the world, and now it seems it is our turn to suffer. The fact that we suffer at our own hands serves only to grieve me further. It’s one thing to be oppressed and killed by an outside enemy. But we are being oppressed and killed by our own.
It hurts, disturbs, frightens, and angers.
Many have a need to find who’s to blame. Or what’s to blame. The left says it’s guns. The right says it’s mental illness. The truth says it’s neither.
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)
I agree with my friend David Rupert when he said what happened in Texas was pure evil. But I will go one step further and say this: what happened in Texas was pure evil that pulsed through the shooter’s heart. It wasn’t a general evil that swirled around in the air like dust from fairy hell that happened to land on the shooter’s hands. The shooter deliberately harbored and fed evil in his heart, and ultimately made a choice to live out that evil. He could’ve fought evil with truth and love and goodness and everything that Christ is to the Christian – but he chose wrong. Kelley was a known atheist. He chose to reject Christ and embrace the deceitful, desperately wicked heart inside him. The result was anger, which led to hate, which led to killing.
Devin Kelley and Scott Ostrem are responsible for the Baptist Church and Wal-Mart massacres, respectively and solely. Not guns. Not mental illness. Not the Air Force, although they are to blame for negligence in Kelley’s case. But even if the AF had done their job and reported Kelley for his crimes, Kelley could’ve easily bought a gun from a private party. Or stolen one. To think Kelley would’ve obeyed a law designed to keep him from his mission of massacring Christians is dreamy, naive thinking. The motto of criminals is: you make a law, I break a law. They aren’t interested in the rules, and we are fools if we believe criminals are or will ever be law abiding citizens. By definition, they are not. By necessity, we must believe them and act accordingly. Meaning, we must follow in the barefoot steps of Stephen Willeford, and fight asinine fire with courageous fire in the name of love and protection of our innocent neighbors.
When the Texas shooting was interrupted by Willeford (the right kind of gunman), and Kelley ended his own life with a bullet to his head, Kelley immediately stood before God. And in that moment, God did not excuse Kelley because he was “mentally ill” or because the Air Force didn’t report him or because lawmakers have yet to force gun control on American citizens. He didn’t excuse Kelley at all, in fact, because in the end, God holds individuals responsible for their own actions and decisions.
This is where our culture is being thick-skulled. It is customary to blame something or someone outside ourselves. To avoid taking personal responsibility. For anything. This has been a problem since the beginning of time. Adam blamed Eve for his sin and Eve blamed the serpent for her sin, and God said No! You did it, Adam. And No! You did it, Eve. And because you’re both guilty, both of you will surely die.
What’s scary is that the same evil that lurked and eventually won in the hearts of the shooters lurks in every human heart. All of us are capable of mass, cold-blooded, heartless murder, and it’s only by the grace of God that not all of us go there.
What’s ironic is that, as a whole, our culture insists all citizens uphold a law that was God’s to start with: thou shalt not commit murder. But that insistence exposes hypocrisy, because if a culture no longer believes God exists and that culture does everything in their power to push Him out of their schools, government, and lives, then what gives that culture the right to force any of His laws upon anyone?
If God doesn’t exist, then hey, no point in adopting or enforcing His laws, right? Think about it. If there is no God, why, morally speaking, shouldn’t Kelley kill 26 people execution style? Why, morally speaking, shouldn’t Ostrem walk into Wal-Mart and blow away three Mexicans? What gives anyone the authority to say racism and hate and murder is wrong, while simultaneously rejecting God? I mean, if you’re going to reject God, form your own laws and regulations. Or worse yet, reject all laws. Embrace savagery. Live savagery. Heck, become a savage like Kelley. Not being “oppressed” by moral rules equals happiness and freedom, right? Hasn’t that been the sermon of liberalism? Of atheism?
If the idea is to flip God the California bird, then fine. Flip Him the bird and go all out, because there’s no reason not to. If God doesn’t exist, then neither does the need to obey His laws. So get on with the insane acts we are all inclined toward: lying, cheating, stealing, coveting our neighbor’s wife, fornication, drunkenness, homosexuality, pedophilia, murder, taking the Lord’s name in vain … and so much more.
Any of that sound familiar? Sounds freakishly Hollywood to me, and Hollywood is who we are following as a culture. Not Christ. And yet, at the same time, Hollywood dons their bogus, shiny halos while insisting sexual abuse and murder or whatever their little hobby horse happens to be at the moment are wrong. Isn’t it hypocritical for actors and actresses to promote rebellion against God’s laws and then turn around and expect society to abide by whichever ones they deem worthy to obey? Am I a lone ranger here, or is anyone else weary of Hollywood making gods of themselves, while borrowing here and there from the one true God?
God help Americans, whose minds are becoming more and more governed by the flesh.
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:6)
Kelley and Ostrem brought death upon us, because their minds, and therefore their actions, were governed by their flesh. That is, their sinful nature. Had their minds been governed by the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit (which none receive until they have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior), their mind, and therefore their actions, would’ve been governed by life and peace.
It’s time to get serious about where we are as a culture, but that doesn’t begin with 24/7 social media feuds surrounding a lack of gun laws, insufficient background checks, and “terrifying” bump stocks. It begins by individually getting serious about the conditions of our hearts, because that’s what’s truly terrifying. We are all depraved, sinful, desperately wicked, and in need of a mind governed by the Spirit. If we continue being governed by the flesh, we will continue getting the same fleshly, despicably gruesome and evil results.
If we want to stop mass shootings, we need to stop giving in to mass depravity. It’s that simple. It’s that hard.
How do we accomplish the simple-hard?
Only Christ can show us. Only Christ can help us. Only Christ can accomplish it through us.
Please, America. Turn to Christ.