In the wake of the most recent round of mass shootings, we are once again asking ourselves the big questions. What caused this? Could it have been prevented? Why is it usually a young man? What made these particular young men pick up guns and kill large numbers of their fellow human beings?
The Blame Game: Legitimate or Not?
There are numerous theories about the root cause of mass shootings. There are pros and cons to each point, but I’m not going to discuss each one. I’m merely stating the current causes under discussion. These are some of the more popular ones:
- Ease of obtaining firearms.
- Rampant and pervasive racism.
- Political extremism–in all directions.
- Lack of available, low-cost mental health care.
- Video games.
- Absence of a father figure or male role model in the home.
- Family dynamics.
- Flaws in our education system.
I could make a much longer list, but this seems to be the gist of what is being talked about in the public forums. What causes our young men (and it is overwhelmingly our young men) to turn to this horrific crime? For every shooter, there are probably several of these sociological causes which, when combined, created a “perfect storm” of response in each of these young men.
The One Root Cause
The truth, to me, seems much simpler. The proponents of each supposed cause can point to research and statistics to support their opinions. But no one in the public eye seems to have the guts to dig deeper. There is one basic human component that goes beyond all these social elements. One thing we need that we don’t discuss.
What we need is God.
When I say “God”, I don’t mean “religion”. There are plenty of “religious” people who have no clue what it is to have a true understanding of, and relationship with, the sovereign God. Terrorists and deranged criminals of all kinds have claimed to be acting in His name, but they don’t know Him. Not truly.
I Know This Much is True
If you’re still reading, then I know you’re either a family member, a believer, or God is at work in your heart in some way. God has you reading this for a reason, and maybe He’s calling you to be part of the solution.
This is what I believe and why it motivates me.
I believe that we are sinners, separated from God. I believe that God loves us and does not want us to be separated from Him. I believe that “God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
As a Christian, I have committed to God to follow what He asks me to do. One of those things is sharing John 3:16 with you, which I just did. Another of those commitments is to believe in him wholeheartedly and to live a life in gratitude of the gifts God has given me. Nothing good that I am, have, or have done is because of me. It is all because of God. He also expects me to love and serve others humbly because of the love I have for Him.
So What Does God Have to Do With This?
Just as we please God when we follow His will, we also grieve Him when we don’t. He doesn’t need us to love Him, but He wants us to. God allows us to choose Him or not. It’s part of how He made us. It’s part of that longing He created in us that only He can fill. In order to follow Him though, we have to know about Him.
When we don’t pay attention to God, even believers can get into trouble. So imagine a young man without God, raised with no moral compass, no knowledge of his own intrinsic value, no ability to see any reason for anyone’s existence. Fuel this hopelessness with the testosterone of a young man, give him a weapon, and what happens should be no surprise.
When evil things happen in this world, we are shocked, though. Christian or not, every one of us should be shocked–into action. I don’t mean we need to protest or have a facebook argument. I mean that we need to look around us and start living out the love of God.
Every one of us knows someone who is lonely, or angry or hurting in some way. Do we ever trouble ourselves to ask them why? Do we ever involve ourselves in the messy parts of other people’s lives? Do we really, truly, love our neighbors as ourselves?
How many people chose to not be used by God to make a troubled young man’s situation more bearable? Any of us are capable of speaking into the life of a potential shooter to show him that he is valued. Someone’s love and support could have soothed his anger and bitterness or made him feel as if he mattered. It’s doubtful that anyone even tried.
That’s the real lesson we should take from this. “Love one another” isn’t sappy sentiment. It’s a commandment–a call to action from God Himself. Love is a verb, and we need to be actively loving others.
I spend some of my free time volunteering with a prison ministry. Most of the inmates were raised in homes with absent or abusive fathers. Many are incarcerated for violent crimes. No matter what led them to do what they did, God got their attention in prison. He was there, with His magnificent love, waiting for them to choose Him.
God doesn’t need our help. But what does it take for us to see that He wants our help?
And God Says…
And the LORD’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. –2 Timothy 2:24-26
And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. –John 17:3
Grace is real,
Judy, the Default Mom