Friendship Grace Brethren Church

Las Vegas Shooting, The Churches Response

Yesterday most of woke to the news of another mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas. As First Responders were still treating and securing victims, the casualty number kept growing. Before long it stood at greater than 50 dead and more than 500 physically wounded, thousands emotionally wounded. Stories quickly spread of heroic actions taken by Law Enforcement Officers, Firemen, and Medics, both on duty and off duty. But while these heroic actions were still being made some began to talk about the evils of firearms. Not the evil in the heart of the perpetrator but the evil in the inanimate object used as a tool of evil by an evil man. The firearm(s) used in this attack was no more evil than the cars used in previous attacks, or trucks, or knifes used to kill people. It was simply a tool used by a man filled with evil to do evil things.

I sat for awhile and prayed for the families of those killed, and I prayed for those physically and emotionally injured in this attack. As I sat, I also pondered why so many are willing to call the tool used “evil” and not the man who used the tool. Could it be that in calling the tool evil they are relieving themselves of any potential of evil internally? Could it be that in calling the man who loaded the guns and repeatedly pulled the trigger while aiming at countless victims, evil, they would also be indicting themselves and all mankind with an evil heart? If the shooter is evil than I may have the capacity for evil also?

The reality is that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Adam began the descent of man when he willfully rejected God’s Word and direction. He thrust all of his descendants into sin and the need for salvation from sin. God has told us in His Word that we, as sinful men, reject what He has revealed to us in this world. Calling the firearm(s) used to kill unsuspecting victims from a lofty perch evil and not the one who pulled the trigger evil is simply another way to reject God’s Word. It is a failure to identify our universal sinful nature and the reality that this shooting is the result of a sin nature innate in all of us. To be sure most people do not perpetrate such heinous crimes as we saw in Las Vegas this week, but we all possess this same sin nature. Calling the gun(s) evil and not the shooter is simply another way to reject the truth of this sin nature.

We see evil in many forms around the world and throughout history, but all evil is related to the sin nature that we each have within us. It is this sin that will ultimately and permanently separate us from God. It does not matter if it is a small sin or mass murder as we saw this week. Any violation of God’s Word, direction, or commands will result in this permanent separation. But God has provided for us a free gift to escape the permanent separation from God. God provided for the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus, to pay the price of our sin by His death on the cross. This sacrifice provides for us an opportunity to accept the free gift of redemption which ultimately will provide us with eternal fellowship with God. You cannot earn this free gift, you cannot do it on your own. It is only through the blood of Jesus that you can be saved. Accept God’s free gift today.

As our Country deals with the aftermath of this mass shooting, we should be praying for the families of those killed and for the injured themselves. We should also use this event and events like it to speak about the sinful nature of mankind and the plan of redemption God has provided. Let’s not focus on the “evil” of the firearm(s) but on the evil in the heart of sinful man. The church should be the voice of reason and calm while proclaiming the free gift God has given to us.

God has told us that the heart of man is desperately wicked and that wickedness was prominently displayed by the actions of this evil man on Monday Morning. Politicians will stand and proudly proclaim that the guns committed this crime, but those guns did not commit this crime any more than the carpenter’s hammer built the house you live in. The hammer was simply a tool used by the carpenter to aid in building the house just as the firearms were tools used by the shooter to conduct this evil. This same evil man could have used a truck to kill many unsuspecting people as we have seen in other attacks. We as the church must work to focus attention on the sinful nature of mankind and not the tools used to perpetrate evil. Once people recognize the evil, sinful nature of all mankind, then they will be better situated to recognize the need for God’s gift of salvation. As the church, we need to be engaged with society and to speak of God and His gift.

We should also remember that God was not surprised by this event. God had planned and prepared for the evil of sinful man since before He created the world. The day is coming when evil and sin will be eliminated. We look forward to the day that sin will be removed, but we will only be able to enjoy the removal of sin by accepting His free gift of salvation. As the church, we need to make this our message in the face of the display of such evil. God has not told us why He allows such evil, but we must remain confident in the truth of His Word and the reality that God has provided a solution to the sinful, wicked, evil heart of mankind. Our job, as the church, is to tell the world. Pray for God to use this evil event to ultimately bring glory to Himself.

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