Jump Start # 1946
Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Another mass shooting in our country. This one, the worst ever. This is not the kind of records that we want broken. Innocent people having fun at a concert are cast immediately into eternity. There is no “do overs,” on this. Once one has passed through the doorway of death, there is no coming back. Tragic. Shocking. Wrong. Sad. The politicians will argue about guns, but nothing much will change. Those in charge of security, will come up with more ways to try to keep us safe. But there is a greater and more fundamental issue at stake here. It’s holding to a reverence and a respect for life. Man is not the same as animals. We are, as our passage reminds us, not only created by God, but we are created in His image. We are like God. His stamp is upon us. Man was never made equal with the animal world.
When people lose reverence for life, they become selfish, indifferent and full of hate. The authorities are looking for a motive, a reason. Why did this guy flip? Gambling debts? Mental? Angry? Connected to fringe groups? We may never know. Without God in one’s life, a person is on their own course. Without the influence of good, evil is easily chosen. Without a foundation of authority, one breaks whatever rules suits him. Without a reverence for life, none of life is sacred.
Here are some things about this shooting that we don’t hear about:
First, countless lives were impacted and changed for ever. There are so many families who are wondering what to do now. Funerals have to be planned and paid for. There are companies that lost workers. There are families that will never get over this. Instantly, because of death, some marriages ended, some families lost a child and the horrific images won’t go away.
Second, there are hundreds in the hospital right now who may suffer the rest of their lives because of what happened. More surgeries may be needed. More therapy. For some, their health may never be the same again.
Third, the emotional wounds may take the longest to get over. Some may never go to a concert again. Some will be filled with anger and rage for the rest of their lives. Some may be destroyed because of this. Fear and worry may be constant companions.
Fourth, some may leave God because of this. They don’t understand. They can’t reason why God would allow this. Why? Why innocent people? Why shatter lives forever? It’s not fair. It’s not right. And for some, like Job’s wife, long ago, all it takes is an unexplained tragedy and that’s enough to curse God and give up. The spiritual wounds may be the hardest to heal.
Here are some things we must keep before us.
First God is and always will be good. Heaven did not arrange this mass shooting. This was not God’s plan. God is for saving life. God is doing right. Don’t point fingers to Heaven on this. The blame goes to sinful choices of a man who lived without Christ.
Second, having free will, means choosing right or wrong. Had God stopped wrong, would God also force right? Would God send people to worship on Sunday who don’t want to be there? God could have His way, but wouldn’t we be His puppets or robots? Free will began in the garden. Here’s all the fruit. Eat anything you want, except one. Just stay away from that one. And Adam and Eve were not satisfied. They wanted all. They wanted the one that God said NO. It was a choice. Listen to God, who has been good and generous. Or, listen to Satan, who has done nothing for you. They listened to Satan. They made the wrong choice. Sin began. And all these years later, it’s the same thing. It’s a choice. Say what I feel like, or choose my words carefully. Do what I want, or do what God says. A man made a terrible choice. He chose death.
Third, what a person does effects others. Innocent people died because of the consequences of a sinful man’s choices. The same happens when a mom and dad shoot themselves up with heroin, while their kids are asleep in the next room. The same happens when a person fills himself up with alcohol and decides it’s time to go home. He gets in the car and hits innocent people. Our lives are not independent of one another. Our words, our choices, our attitudes, all have a bearing upon others. Innocent people are the consequences of sinful choices.
Fourth, in an instant, people cross the doorway of death and enter eternity. Like the childhood game, “ready or not, here I come,” death doesn’t wait for you to get ready. Death doesn’t wait for you to finish the show, go home and say good-bye. Death doesn’t wait for you to finish the projects you are working on. Death doesn’t care if you still have things to do. Death doesn’t wait for you to fill out insurance papers or sign your will. Death doesn’t care that you are young. Death doesn’t care that you have children at home. Isaiah’s words to King Hezekiah, “Set your house in order, for you will die,” rings so true today. Death doesn’t wait for us to “set things in order.”
Finally, a man who caused all of this pain took his life, like a coward, and immediately realized what a fool he was. He crossed through the doorway of death and found out that he still lives. Death didn’t end it. Now, along side the rich man in Luke 16, he suffers like he never has before. His sins, not forgiven. His life, without Christ. His destiny, without any hope, hasn’t and won’t end. There is no more suicide on the other side. There is no escaping what he has done. Awaiting him, is standing before God. Not only will these horrific sins be brought to the light, but more so, the choice he made to live without Jesus. The Lord said, “Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” There is no healing in torment. There is no relief in torment. There is no days off. There is no vacation from torment. The pain he caused on this side of life is nothing to the pain he is experiencing now. And we don’t say, “Good. He deserves it.” “He needs to rot in Hell.” A soul that God made and a life that could have helped others was wasted. And millions follow him, not in murderous killing, but in living to themselves. In living without Jesus. In dying without any hope of Heaven. In thinking that there is nothing beyond.
The saddest picture is not of death, but of those cast into eternity who never knew God. It was their choice. It was the way they wanted it. And now, too late to change. And now, the doors of hope have closed. This is what makes this tragedy so sad.
It is for this reason we walk with the Lord. It is for this reason that we bow our hearts to God. It’s for this reason that we choose to obey, follow and worship the Lord. It is for this reason that we cannot stop telling our family and friends about Jesus. It is for this reason that we are ready to cross through the doorway and be with the Lord.
Open our eyes Lord, that we may see Jesus!