Like most of you, I was shaken by the horrific events of this past week: the senseless shooting of two TV journalists happened in my backyard. Those reporters worked at one of the TV stations in my viewing area and not too far from the massacre at Virginia Tech. Today, my prayers for the family and friends of the victims are for God’s comfort and peace during this excruciating time.
As I listen to the analysis of yet another shooting, I continue to be amazed at the need to assign blame that resurfaces every time we see such evil acted out.
Our President was quick to jump on gun control as the perfect solution our culture continues to ignore. Believe me, I’m not a gun advocate, but let’s not politicize human tragedy to promote an ideology. Gun control is not going to stop what happened at Smith Mountain Lake.
Then there is the routine lament about needing better mental health screenings. Yet it appears that the TV station’s management acted very responsibly; they were acutely aware of the shooter’s problems, took action to protect their staff, and recommended counseling. It would be unrealistic for any company to continuously monitor the behavior of a disgruntled ex employee for two years being vigilant for possible signs of acting out.
As is often the case with these type of shooters, the gunman wanted to outdo his predecessors. He wanted us to share in his cowardly act. So he used his video skills and social media to document the horror. Social media were his distribution channels. His message? I’ve been wronged, offended, hurt, I have grudges…so watch me get my revenge!
Unless he broadcast his intentions to hurt these specific people, it’s unlikely anyone could have seen this coming. And that is what disturbs us. We can’t predict how evil presents. So we try to lay blame…if only he didn’t have easy access to guns, if only he had been picked up by the mental health system… but how can we contain evil?
To successfully fight evil, you have to change a person’s heart. That transformation changes bitterness to forgiveness and brings a refusal to repay evil for evil. Without a change of heart, evil will continue to be acted out.
Spiritual solutions are rarely talked about in our culture these days. Yet, solving spiritual problems with secular solutions is a non-starter. Ephesians 6:12 says, “We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.” And when humans are the face of that evil, we fight the darkness with the light of Christ. We stop evil with changed hearts. But that won’t make the news-talk cycle.
So while the media pundits argue for gun control and better screenings, I pray that we do a better job addressing the spiritual condition of peoples’ lives, that the church continues to push back the darkness with the light of the gospel, that lives will be transformed. This was the message of those gunned down in Charleston and this is a message we need to remember.