Sandy Hook. Columbine. Fort Hood. Virginia Tech. Chances are that when you hear each of those words, it triggers heart-wrenching images and news about terrible mass shootings that are unfortunately becoming all too common.
Whenever something tragic happens, there are a few questions you hear time and again:
“Where was God?”
“How can we prevent something like this from happening again?”
Pundits on the left cry: “Something MUST be done to stop this!”, and quickly grab their pen to draft legislation for stricter gun laws, hoping less access for the legal purchase of weapons will cut down on shootings.
Pundits on the right approach the issue from another perspective, claiming people need to be able to defend themselves as a basic right, and that outlawing guns would mean only outlaws have guns, and make crime escalate.
Each side may have some good ideas and arguments, and may prevent some violence (to a degree), but both ultimately fall short or a real solution, because any idea we come up with is ultimately a band-aid on a much larger wound.
The gun control debate is a lose-lose debate.
No matter what political party gets their way, there will continue to be shootings and there will continue to be debate as to how to best prevent senseless violence.
Let’s avoid the temptation of thinking that if our political party gets their way, then the gun problem is solved. We must address a problem that is much deeper than Republican or Democrat legislation or the right to own weapons: the human heart.
The Bible teaches that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” (Jeremiah 17:9).
While we may not all be as sinful as the Adam Lanzas or Jared Loughners of the world, each of us has a heart problem and a disobedience problem before Almighty God.
The human heart is the problem, and a heart change is the solution.
There is no Jiffy-Lube for heart changes. We cannot will our hearts to be changed, and in fact we are utterly powerless to change our hearts. Only God can truly change the nature of man and give him two things he desperately needs: the forgiveness of sin and a true heart change.
Jesus Christ is the only true hope anybody has for change.
God has graciously provided the possibility for heart change:
…And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
The regeneration that comes in Christ replaces the deceitful heart of man and gives him a new heart and God’s Spirit to lead and guide in holiness.
The gun problem will not fix itself or get better, and until Christ returns, can only be improved upon and never completely solved. Heart change happens one person at a time, and will not happen for everybody, which still leaves a lot of bad people in the world capable of terrible violence.
The more people who humbly embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and turn from their sin, the more heart change will happen, the more violence will be prevented, and the more people will find true peace–peace with God.
Finding peace with God in Jesus Christ will allow us to live more at peace with one another.
The believer has tremendous hope that when Christ does return, He will bring peace and execute justice.
Micah 4:3-5 powerfully describes the future hope believers have for ultimate peace:
“He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.”
As we flip on the news to hear of more tragic and senseless violence, let us set our hope not in political party talking points, but rather in the One who provided the only true solution to senseless violence, by enduring senseless violence Himself for our sake, to open up the opportunity for heart change and redemption.
Let us look forward to the day there will be no more death, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4), and let us look to the One who will usher in that day.
[image courtesy of Smarter’s Photos on Flickr]