This story feels extremely close and personal to me for two reasons. For starters, just over three weeks ago I was involved in an incident that, at the time, was believed to be a shooting in a mall in Omaha, Nebraska. (Read my account of that night here.) The terror of those dream-like moments remains all too fresh and gut-wrenching.
Secondly, I work as an English as second language teacher in a K-8 school in inner-city Minneapolis. The majority of my students are between eight and nine years old. The thought of encountering a crazed gunman intent on killing innocent children in my classroom is absolutely sickening. From time to time I’ve thought about what my reaction would be. I pray to God it would be a brave, self-sacrificial reaction rather than a cowardly, selfish one.
Watching the news, the question posed over and over again is “Why?” Why did this happen? How is it possible that someone could do something like this? Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy said it this way: “Evil visited this community.” And in the end, that is exactly why something like this happened. Evil is at the root of this tragedy. Evil is real, and it manifested itself in a terrifying way in an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
We human beings are a broken race. God created us for glory. God created us for joy at heights we are currently unable to fathom. But as the story in Genesis goes, Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God’s good and righteous rule. They cast God off the throne of their lives and set themselves up in his place. And in this way evil entered the world. And it has plagued us ever since. The singular cause of school shootings and broken families and fights with one’s spouse is found in the rupture that exists in mankind’s relationship with the God that created and loves them. It is no small wonder that when we turn our backs on the Light we find ourselves in darkness.
So evil is not isolated to the hearts of psychotic gunmen in elementary schools. It’s a universal reality that exists in the hearts of each and everyone of us. Evil visited Sandy Hook on Friday to be sure. But it also visited 10th Avenue South (my street) just this morning. In fact, it lives there. It lives in me. The evil that drove a man to kill children in an elementary school in Connecticut is the same evil that lurks in the depths of my selfish, arrogant, rebellious heart. And it’s the same evil that resides in yours.
As a result I need a Savior. You need a savior. And that may be the most incredible news of all. There is one. His name is Jesus. The God-man Jesus Christ left his home in heaven and entered a cruel and violent world to be treated cruelly and violently and in so doing to make a way for sinful mankind like you and me and gunmen from Connecticut to be reconciled to their good and holy God.
Such evil will be repaid in full in one of two ways. Jesus taught that either the perpetrator will pay for his own evil deeds in a literal, eternal hell, or Jesus himself would take the punishment on himself and pay it for all those who see him and believe in him. Embrace Jesus today. Come to him and submit to him. Cling to what he did for you as your only hope for reconciliation with your all-satisfying Creator.
May God be pleased to shine the Light of the world, Jesus, into the darkness that looms over Sandy Hook Connecticut–the very same darkness that hangs over the heads of us all.
Peace to you.