I’ve had about 10 different types of blog posts in my head since last week’s shooting tragedy. The internet has been on fire with everyone’s thoughts that part of me wants to stay out of it because so many beautiful and thought-provoking things have already been said. What can I possibly add? But on the other had, this is where I process, and since I can’t stop thinking about it. I need to process.
I have particular selfish reasons for hating when these things happen. Immediately, my brain thinks about the horrible person who committed the crime, which then triggers in me a righteousness. Who would do such a thing? What kind of messed up person has such disregard for human life?
It only takes moments for the Holy Spirit to softly whisper (sometimes not so softly) the answer. You.
No, I don’t have any propensity to shoot up a school. I don’t harbor murderous thoughts about innocent people. But in my heart lies the same utter disregard for human life that lay in the killer’s heart. I need look no further than my own apartment to see someone who couldn’t care less about dying children.
You see, I don’t pull the trigger, but I make the choices and turn my eye. I cozily slink into my warm bed at night, stressing about what gourmet meal to make for dinner tomorrow night with nary a thought for the 25,000 people who will die of starvation today. I step over a homeless veteran on my way to buy a $5 latte because it’s delicious. I agonize over which designer diaper bag would go best with my wardrobe instead of spending $10 on a bed net that would actually save one of the children who will die every 60 seconds from malaria – a preventable and treatable disease.
It’s not guilt. It’s conviction. Guilt is worthless. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It’s not my fault that evil exists in the world, but if I can do something to stop it, shouldn’t I? Conviction moves us to action. Knowing that my actions are wrong, repenting and trusting in the Holy Spirit to reform my ways makes real change.
You will say, cut yourself a break. God wants you to enjoy life and have fun. We can’t spend all our energy on serving others. I’m not so sure. Yes, there’s a time for celebrating, but haven’t I celebrated enough? Haven’t I had 30 years of feasting? Didn’t my Year of Jubilee end many years ago? When is the time that I start to say no? When will I truly begin to change my ways and live for Christ instead of myself? What will it take? How many more people will die while waiting?
If it’s real, then what do I have to lose? If I worship a God who came as a man to save the world from sin, who raised people from the dead and calmed the sea, and it’s all true, what am I so afraid of? If paradise waits for me, then why do I care so much about making this life paradise? Kay Arthur tells a story of a Christian man in prison. The prison was cold, but he had a blanket. Another man, badly beaten, was placed in his cell, but he didn’t have a blanket. The Christian man knew that without the blanket, the man would die (just as he would die if he gave it up). The Holy Spirit spoke to him, saying that if he died, he would be with Jesus, while if the other man died, he would go to hell since he did not yet know Christ. The Christian man gave up his blanket and died. The other man survived and lived to tell the tale of his sacrifice.
I am holding onto my blankets while people are dying because I want to live another day. Not only do I just want to live, but I want to live in all the comfort that I possibly can. Once I have it all, once I have everything I could possibly need, then maybe I will spare a blanket, but only if it’s easy.
I want to be Esther, saying If I perish, I perish.
The truth is that I my heart is so much closer to Hitler’s, Bin Laden’s and Adam Lanza’s than it is to Christ’s. It’s not even a contest.
This is Christmas. This is why Christ came as a baby in a manger. To save me from my sin. He knows my heart and knows that without him, I am doomed to death. He came that I might have life and have it more abundantly. He came to set me free from sin so that I can love others freely. Through his birth, death and resurrection, I can have a new life that’s not marked by this evil. Thank you Jesus for coming and saving me from myself.