There is a problem in America and it isn’t guns. It uses a gun sometimes. Sometimes it uses a knife, or a car, or a truck, or a homemade bomb. Whatever tool it chooses to do its dirty work is immaterial. The problem isn’t the means…it’s the cause.
What causes a 19-year-old kid to walk into his school and gun down 17 children? What caused him to beat his mother and have such a history of violence that the police were at his house no less than 36 times in the last 18 months? (I’ll leave the dereliction of duty by the FBI, who were warned twice about this kid, for others to discuss.)
What rages inside a teenaged young man that causes him to do these things, and then almost immediately surrender and appear repentant? By all accounts, almost as soon as he was apprehended, he was saying he was sorry for the hurt he caused and was willing to plead guilty to avoid causing the community further pain.
You see this all the time. A person tortured by the demons of mental illness, (I use the term “demons” figuratively and literally…more on that in a moment) and filled with an unexplained rage, comes to the point of murder and almost as soon as the deed is done, they surrender peacefully, or they kill themselves.
Why? What are we missing in these events?
We see the carnage. We blame the gun. (We only blame the guns. Nobody ever calls for the banning of trucks, even though they’ve been use to greater effect in mass murders than guns lately. Nobody ever calls for a ban on knives, even though we’ve had mass stabbings) We call for legal action to strip weapons from people who have never used them to harm anyone, and then we scratch our heads when these things happen anyway.
There was murder long before there were guns. Murder didn’t develop as a result of there being weapons. Murder was always here. Ever since Cain killed Abel…probably with a rock or a log.
Because there is evil in the world.
There is evil in this world and it is larger and more powerful than people want to believe. I saw people posting things about “Being more loving” and “Love conquering hate” and I shrugged. These folks don’t get it. They don’t understand evil and what it really is and who it really comes from.
There is a hate problem in this world. But it’s genesis isn’t between humans…it’s a battle on a much larger, and unseen, front. The problem is Satan. The problem is sin.
God brings life. God brings love. God brings hope. God brings peace.
Satan is the antithesis of all those things. Where God is the author of Life…Satan causes death. Why do you think abortion is such a terrible thing? Because a baby is slaughtered? YES! Of course! But also, because when we, as humans, take a life, we tell the Author of life that we have no regard for Him. We take the most precious gift He gave us other than His Son –life-- and we destroy it in the name of convenience.
When one human murders another, it is the act of extinguishing a life that is the most egregious. The violence is terrible, but the death is the insult to God.
Psalm 139 tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The word for “made” in the ancient Hebrew was the same word in Genesis that described God “making” Adam. He formed him with His own hands. Man was the only thing in all of creation that God created by touch. Everything else, He spoke into existence. But Man, He created by His loving, careful, artistic touch. It’s no coincidence that the same word is also used in scripture when describing an artist making art with his hands. We are God’s art.
We are His beloved.
And His arch enemy hates us for it.
Make no mistake…Satan is real, and he has one goal in all eternity and that is the defeat of his enemy. Knowing this is not going to happen, his intent is to take as many with him as he can, and to damage as much of God’s beloved as possible.
He hates us. He hates humanity. He grinds his teeth in rage at each and every human soul. Why? For one reason: Because God adores us, and since Satan can’t harm God…he’ll harm what God loves.
This is his domain, this world we live in. This is his finite kingdom. He knows how this will end but he has convinced himself that he can change the outcome. His problem always was pride. It still is.
He seeks any open door and he’ll spring as soon as he sees one. And then…when he’s done his dirty work and he’s wrecked his havoc…he leaves the scene and moves on to the next atrocity.
He finds cracks in the souls of men. Things like anger, bitterness, isolation, and so often, mental illness. When the soul’s natural defenses are weakened, he makes his move and takes control. Call it demon possession, demonic influence, or whatever. Name it what you will, but recognize it.
The vast majority of human beings do not have the capacity, on their own, to take a life. Not intentionally and not without remorse. If this were not true we would have murder in the streets to the extent that we’d be extinct. And don’t think the weapon would make a difference. We’d use our bare hands. If not for the flicker of the image of God in our souls, we’d be entirely without restraint and chaos would rule the day. The Holy Spirit of God is active on this earth and His presence in the hearts of Believers is what holds Satan at bay and keeps humanity, for the most part, at peace with each other.
But there are times. There are people, who break down emotionally, or mentally, or physically, often all three. And when this happens, Satan swoops in and takes control. He seizes an opportunity, inflames the already damaged sense of restraint, and uses that person to carry out his greater plan.
In Florida, this morning there are families whose lives are forever changed. Parents who have been pulled into a nightmare that will never end…not while they still breathe.
Because Satan found himself a very damaged, very wounded human. A young man filled with rage, and bitterness, and a broken soul. He was mentally ill. His natural decency was easily influenced by this evil one. Maybe Satan whispered in his ear and fed his anger and amplified his pain, all the while convincing him that he was his buddy. That he understood. That there was this one way to get revenge, or get noticed, and to finally not be an invisible, broken kid anymore. Maybe the words were audible, or maybe they were internal. But they worked.
They worked and This kid bought himself a gun and decided to kill students in the high school he was expelled from a year ago. Maybe Satan convinced him the he really did have an axe to grind. That he really had been wronged. That these kids and those teachers really did need to pay. That the enormous pain in his heart and in his head, was somehow their fault and that killing them would finally make people see him. Satan convinced him to surrender himself to his control. The kid didn’t realize that’s what was happening. He just thought he made a decision to kill. But he gave control to Satan and Satan gladly used the vessel. And as soon as his work was done, he dumped the boy and moved on looking for another willing accomplice, and the boy –no longer under Satan’s grip—surrenders without incident.
I don’t know…I’m guessing. But I do know that no normal human being has the capacity to walk through a high school and gun down kids. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve had to defend yourself, and the possibility of deadly force was on the table, you know it’s not what the average human wants to do. It’s scary and it’s humbling and it makes you a little ill in your heart. I know. I came close to it once when an intruder was approaching my home. A man with known mental illness and who had committed murder years before. I held him at bay with a bow and arrow, (Because it was the nearest weapon) until the cops arrived. When it was over, and my adrenaline receded, I almost broke down in tears at the mere thought that I might have had to kill him. Murder isn’t normal for God’s creation.
But it’s the way of doing business for Satan. It’s the coin of his realm. Jesus came that we might have life. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. (John 10:10)
Does this absolve Nicholas Cruz of the murders he committed? Never. But until people –especially Christians—take this seriously and stop thinking that “we just need to love each other more,” we’ll never see an end to this. We’re not likely to see one anyway. This is part of the end of days.
What Christians need to be doing is praying more. Really praying. Not just chit-chatting with God. Seriously grasping the truth that our prayers, and our lives and our presence on this Earth are the only boundary that remains between Satan and his devices, and the rest of humanity. Spiritual warfare is real. The battle in the heavenly realm is real.
Satan is real.
Sadly, Christians behave as if he is a fairy tale.
Until we wake up and see the battle for what it is and realize our role in it…we’ll see more killing, not less. You’re not going to “love” this away. This is war.
Get in the fight.