Shining in the Midst of Evil

What can I say about the awful tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, that hasn’t already been said over the last three days? Some have used it as a political football to call for more gun control, ignoring the fact that Aurora already had strict gun control laws. Others have pointed out that if private citizens had the right to carry guns, someone in that theater would have stopped the carnage before it got out of hand. Both presidential campaigns did the right thing by cutting back on overt campaigning while people deal with the situation.

Then there has been the old, tired debate over “why” anyone would do such a thing. The answer to the “why” is as old as humanity itself. Why did Adam and Eve disobey God? Why did Cain kill Abel? Why did the world become such a toxic place that God destroyed it all except for one family and started again? Why did the people emerge from the Flood and try to establish themselves as equals to God? Why have the nations raged against each other for centuries? Why do individuals carry out abominable acts against others? The answer to the “why” is simply another three-letter word: “sin.”

I define sin as I believe the Bible does: rebellion against the righteous commandments of a loving and forgiving God, who also must engage in judgment in order to remain loving and true to righteousness. Sin is man’s way of putting himself first, placing his own desires above that of God’s. Sin manifests itself in grievous acts such as the one in Aurora, but also in petty jealousies and basic self-centeredness. James Holmes’s self-centeredness led to a vicious action that took the lives of many. My self-centeredness, and yours, may not result in a killing spree, but any disregard for righteousness is from the same source.

Yes, there are varied paths people take to get to the point where they do something such as Holmes did, and we can analyze what there was in his childhood, his relationships, his life disappointments, or whatever, that led to his actions. But when all the analysis is complete, we cannot lose sight of the underlying truth that each person is responsible for his/her actions and the heart attitude that birthed those actions. Even when we call someone mentally ill, we must do so in the context of recognizing that each person is a free moral agent made in the image of God who will be held accountable one day by the God who made him. That basic truth is rapidly losing ground in our age of blame-shifting and excuse-making.

Evil is real. It must be acknowledged as real and dealt with accordingly. Righteousness is real. It needs to be held up for all to see. Christians are supposed to be God’s representatives who show the way to that righteousness. In the midst of evil, we need to shine brightly for the world to see. May we accept the challenge and point others to the only Truth, the only Way, the only Life.