Sunday saw the tragic killing of 26 people by Devin Patrick Kelley in Sutherland Springs baptist church (near San Antonio in Texas) which has been called the Texas Church Massacre.
I, like many, was both shocked and heartbroken by this event. I am still numb two days later.
Predictably, rather than offering compassion many have sought to use this event to push their agenda, whether it be for tougher anti-gun laws, or a chance to criticise those who offer prayers or to point out that Devin was a militant atheist who called Christians “stupid”. The finally there are those who try to rationalise the behaviour by blaming mental illness.or a domestic situation that got out of control.
But these are all deflections – they are handy scapegoats to avoid the real issue:
We are all sinners who fall way short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) and are slaves to sin (Rom 6:16).
Each one of us like sheep have gone astray (Isa 53:6), no one is righteous (Rom 3:10). We are objects of wrath (Eph 2:3b), all under a curse (Gal 3:10b) and deserve death (Rom 6:23a) and eternal punishment (Mt 25:46a).
Whilst laws can tell us what is right and wrong they are powerless (Rom 8:3) to change our heart condition.
If you have no guns, like in the UK, you’ll have knife crime.
If you also have no knives, like in the prisons, you’ll have people fashioning their own weapons.
Until we stop blaming everything else and stop making excuses and face the darkness in our own soul and our overwhelming need for a saviour and turn to Him, then there will be no change.
That’s why when Jesus responded to tragedies his cry was for those around to repent (Lk 13:1-5).
We are all of us capable of great darkness as we daily make choices. I don’t believe Devin when he was young aspired to murder people in the church where he grew up. A series of small choices led him there.
I don’t believe the prodigal son set out from home aiming to become starving in a pigsty. A series of small choices led him there.
And I certainly never got married hoping to see my wife drive to my office with the car packed and our eldest baby in the back to hear her tell me that she was leaving me. A series of daily choices I made led her there.
But when we turn to Christ, Jesus takes away our sin (Jn 1:29), we are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6:6), he bears the wrath we deserve (1 Jn 2:2), he bears the curse we are under (Gal 3:13), he dies the death we deserve (1 Pet 3:18) and takes our punishment (Is 53:5).
More than that, when we turn to Christ we become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), dead to sin (Rom 6:11), a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), righteous and holy (Eph 4:24).
Daily as we keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25) we are being transformed from glory into glory until we become like Him (2 Cor 3:18) so that we no longer fall into sin but into righteousness.
This is not just theory. I have seen this in my life. As a result of me repenting and seeking God’s help, our marriage has been transformed and we are soon to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
Father, forgive us that we want to point the finger at anything other than our own sinfulness. Forgive us that we don’t want to face our need for you. We confess that our lives without you are a mess that is heading to destruction. We turn to you. Fill us with your Spirit. Give us a new nature that longs to do the righteous works of your Son. Help us daily to respond to the prompting of your Spirit so that we become the beautiful bride. In Jesus name. Amen.