My heart is heavy today. As I got up and started my day, I began to see posts on Facebook that things were not well in a town near me. Sadly, a school I once attended many years ago was rocked by violence this morning. As of time I am sitting to write this, four casualties have resulted from a shooting in the school. Current reports state there have been two deaths – one being the suspect from a possible self inflicted gun shot, the other a school staff member – and two children in critical condition. The news of these events grieves my heart terribly. Partly because I once attended this school in my youth. I have many fond memories of friends and teachers there. To see it rocked by such violence, to imagine what it might have been like had my father gotten such a call as many parents did today, to think on those kids who will be emotionally and physically scarred by the tragedy, causes me to weep. But also, as I look at this I cannot but help but weep for the one who stepped out of this world in his sinful state.
While many political pundits and news agency talking heads will spend days and weeks debating the events of today, and many will ultimately blame lack of school security, others claiming gun control needs to be more strict, none will truly acknowledge the root cause of this tragedy. None will recognize that it was the sinful heart of a young man that caused the loss of life and critical injuries that happened today. From the secular worldview, our children are either blank slates or inherently good. This worldview believes that all we need are the right conditions for our children to blossom into the greatest and brightest examples of humanity. However, that is not what God’s word teaches.
Following God’s judgment through a worldwide flood, Noah and his family came out of the ark. One of the first tasks Moses did was to make a burnt offering to the Lord. In Genesis 8: 21 we read, “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” God promised that even though man was wicked from his youth, He would never again destroy all of humanity through a worldwide flood. God in this passage declares that there is no person that is innocent or sinless during the formative years of his or her life. We do not learn to sin later, we are not influenced to sin by environment. We are sinful from birth, as David writes in Psalm 51: 5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Because we are born sinners, we sin naturally. It is part of our character and nature to rebel against the very Creator who gives us life. It is that rebellion, that willful disobedience against God that will one day be brought into judgment. We will stand before God, with every disobedient thought, word and deed laid bare before Him. No claim that we were innocents let down by society will stand. Our utter sinfulness will send us straight to Hell.
There may be those who read this now who are very upset with me that I would choose this incident to claim the shooter was a wicked sinner deserving of Hell. Some may feel I am dishonoring his parents, trying to capitalize on their loss to promote my faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. I weep for this child. I am heartbroken that, despite the wickedness and harm he committed, he is now standing before the Judge of the universe and the evil that he did will be judged eternally. I weep because it is a child like this that we as Christians are commanded to share the truth of the gospel with. The truth that God forgives sins. That all the anger and hatred inside his heart, no matter the motivations, would be forgiven through the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to take the punishment for his sins. That if he repented – that if he turned from the anger and hatred in his heart, that if he viewed himself not as a good person, but as one who was in rebellion against God – and turned to Christ as the only source of his salvation, he could be made righteous in the eyes of God. I weep because today, many in our churches are not sharing this gospel message. Perhaps it is fear that motivates them, fear of rejection, fear of being hated for the word’s sake. Or maybe it is a lack of biblical understanding, that the sharing of the gospel is not a gift given to some, but a command to all because we are in a spiritual war for souls. I weep, because many people like this young shooter, and those he affected, will step off into eternity today, and tomorrow and next week, with no knowledge that God has made a way of salvation for them.
I know that it is the individual who must answer to God for their sin, make no mistake. I do not blame my fellow brethren for the sins of those who going to Hell. But I implore you, can you not look at this scene and weep knowing that maybe you had a chance to share the gospel with someone; however, you put it off for another day and that day never came? Parents took their children to school today fully believing they would come home. Today some are waiting in a hospital to find out if they will ever come home. Other parents are weeping, trying to understand how their precious loved one could ever have done this, and crushed that they will never have the chance to ask him why. There are thousands more who will repeat this scenario tomorrow, never believing tragedy and loss will strike them. Christians, should we be so naive? Should we believe that there is always tomorrow to give the life giving message of the gospel, when we can’t even be sure they will be with us at the end of the day? I beg you, don’t delay another moment. Proclaim the gospel today!