Horrific. Disgusting. Monstrosity. Evil. Murder. Outrageous. Unbelievable. Incomprehensible. These words, among many others, are what people are using to describe the scene at the theater in Colorado this week. There are many questions that will be left unanswered, the biggest one being why someone would do such a thing. In the hours that followed, everyone who had any sort of information was interviewed and given their 5 minutes of fame, whether they wanted it or not. The media storm that comes with these sorts of atrocities is so fast that people have a hard time knowing what to believe at any given moment. Then there are the constant speculations and the political spin that is put on it. I know that everyone is writing about it, but I have been thinking about one specific area of this. As a parent, what would it be like for me to see something so awful and know that it was my child who did such a thing.
It was certainly a normal day for this murderer’s parents when they got word that there had been a shooting in a movie theater. No doubt they felt the same emotions we all felt. But then the biggest heartache came as they heard the name of their son as the one implicated in the actions. How could it be? What is to be done now?
In the days to come people will blame all kinds of people. They will dig through his past, his parents, his friends and anything that might point to a reason. The truth is he acted out of his own will and heart. Mom and dad are not to blame, nor should they be. This young man obviously has problems, but the circumstances of this are so out there that it is hard to even make sense of it. One thing we can be sure of is that this is going to haunt his parents and family more than anyone else. They might wonder if they ignored warning signs or, even worse, contributed to his evil acts. This boy was not groomed to be a monster. He was not taught violence at a young age. He was enticed by sin and took the bait.
This problem is not a new one. In fact, ever since the creation of the world sin has been prevalent and destructive. Sin has been enticing people to do something that is counter the will of God and we, like fools, have done whatever it commanded of us. God created humanity and called it very good. You would think a people who had been formed in the image of the living God would desire to be with Him. Yet, we do know that this was not the case. People rebelled against God and chose to do things their own way. God’s love for the people He created was so great that He gave them many ways back to a relationship with Him. Over and over again God rescues the people from the mess they got themselves into and they still would get side tracked by other things. This leads to the ultimate rescue plan in Jesus Christ. In His death and resurrection, God reconciled man to himself. It was what was needed. Yet, the sin problem remained because sin has a big mouth and doesn’t just go away. The allure of sin comes from the sin nature embedded in us that has a natural bent away from God, a truth that is exploited by the devil’s organized rebellion against God.
Now, considering all of that, imagine what it is like to watch the people you love reject you. Imagine what it would be like to watch them do things that will only destroy them. I love my children and can’t even fathom what it would be like to hear one of them tell me to get lost. It is hard to even envision something like that. It must be absolutely gut wrenching. Yet God is gracious to us and doesn’t just destroy us.
In the case of this shooter in Colorado, it is wise to attempt to put ourselves in the shoes of those who love him. Instead of being so quick to judge this murderer, we should pray for him. Yes, pray for the victims and their families who were wounded deeply. For them it will certainly take a long time to see healing. They need our support now more than ever. We should, however, not forget to pray for this young man who was enticed by sin and now lives with the consequences of his actions. As awful as his crime was, he is still a living, breathing, person who has the same sin problem as we all do and the same need for a Savior as we do. The only difference is that his sin is so blatant that everyone sees it and is appalled by it.
There is a day coming when these sorts of chaotic events won’t happen any longer. In the mean time, we look to God in his grace, to take this unthinkable act and make something beautiful out of it. This is something God has done for so many of us already, so what’s one more?
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. – James 1:13-15