by Johnathan Arnold
For millions, Sunday, October 1 was an ordinary day. For Christians, it was the Lord's Day, a day of celebrating the risen Christ. But for the city of Las Vegas, it was a taste of hell on earth. At least 58 people were killed in the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States as a gunman opened up on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers are devastated. Children are confused. The community is terrified. The country is in mourning. How should we respond as Christians?
Weep With Those Who Weep
Romans 12:15 reminds us to "weep with those who weep." While we cannot begin to understand the grief that the families are enduring, we can certainly extend our sympathy and prayers. Jesus is interested in broken people. "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit" (Psalm 34:18).
While it is appropriate to pray for comfort and healing from God in the aftermath of tragedy, it is equally necessary to pray that tragedy turns people TO God, not AGAINST Him. If tragedy subsides and no one turns to God in humility and dependance, they only await a worse tragedy at the great judgment day when they will stand before God without Christ. May many find the Savior in the midst of their sorrow!
While others are sending their "thoughts and prayers" through Facebook and Twitter, let us pray fervent and sincere God-centered prayers. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 tells us that prayers should "be made for all men...For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." God has the power to work all things together for good, even when it seems impossible. A mass turning to God is the only appropriate response to a mass shooting.
The One Word On Everyone's Mind
While we may not know the victims of the Las Vegas shooting and feel helpless to make a hands-on difference, the victims and their families are not the only ones affected by tragedies. Violence and mass shootings are at an all-time high and the question on everyone's mind is "Why?" This one word haunts our minds. Why would someone do this? Why would God allow it?
We must remember that God is not responsible for evil. He created a world with potential for incredible good and with that comes the potential for incredible evil. The choice made by our first parents had tragic consequences for the world in which we live. We continue to follow in their footsteps, for "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). 1 John 5:19 says it well: "the whole world lieth in wickedness." The world is in bondage to the wicked one.
Except for the restraining grace of God, we would all be guilty of violence. In the days of Noah, "the earth was filled with violence" (Gen. 6:11). No one fully realizes what dwells in his heart, for "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said to a group of religious leaders in John 8:44 that "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning..."
So, why do people commit atrocities? As individuals resist the grace of God and follow their heart down a trail of tragic choices, they often go further into sin than they ever thought was possible. As Harold McWhorter’s song famously goes, "Sin will take you farther than you want to go, Slowly but wholly taking control."
Today we mourn: both for the victims and their families, and for the millions of souls still without the Savior.
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