The nation grieved again this last week at the senseless killing of seventeen students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As these tragedies mount, there is a growing sense of anger. One Parkland student said, “My generation will not stand for this!” Jimmy Kimmel directed his vitriol toward President Trump in saying, “You’ve literally done nothing!”
Undoubtedly, there are lessons to be learned and action steps to be taken. The police had been called to the shooter’s home on thirty-nine separate occasions over a seven-year period. This was a young man with a history of violent behavior and mental illness. It is reasonable to suggest that a known violent criminal should not be able to legally purchase these kinds of weapons.
But as we navigate through the thorny, complex issue of gun control, we run the risk of missing the deeper issues at stake. This is not primarily a gun issue but a societal issue. Guns have been around for a long time. But the escalation of violence points to a deeper crisis. Many parents have failed to discipline their children and the result is a generation of juvenile delinquents. Many fathers have checked out (either physically or emotionally) leaving moms to raise young men. Violent video games have desensitized our children. As a society, we have cast off any acknowledgement of God and any moral standards of right and wrong. The situation in Parkland should grieve us—but it should not surprise us.
Jesus confronted acts of terror in his own day. His disciples told him about some Jews who had been brutally killed by the Romans (Luke 13:1-5). How would Jesus respond? He used the opportunity to tell them, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” These were tragic situations. Death is horrible. But Jesus wanted to remind them of the foundation reality that they were all going to die. Tragedies like this should make us realize the brevity of life, turn from our sin and look to God for our salvation. And this would certainly be our prayer during this time in our nation. We pray that people would become aware of the depravity of sin and our desperate condition apart from Christ. We might need to apply a band-aid. But that is no replacement for a blood transfusion.
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