By now, you've most certainly heard about the school shooting that took place on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As of this writing, 17 people have died. It is yet another example of evil on display in our culture.
With regard to this tragedy, I want to address this question: How should we, as Christians, respond to evil such as this? My answer won't be comprehensive, but I pray it is helpful.
The pain of others should be our pain. We should have compassion, meaning we should 'suffer with' them. In the gospels, those who suffered found compassion in Jesus. Whether Jesus saw spiritual hopelessness (Mt. 9:36), physical illnesses (Mt. 14:14; 20:34), or simple hunger (Mk. 8:2), His response was compassion. As followers of Jesus, the unspeakable pain, even of those we will never meet, must move us. We must "weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15).
This should be obvious, but it shouldn't go unsaid. We should pray that God will comfort the suffering. We should pray that the church in Miami will faithfully minister to those in need. We should pray that Christians will weep, listen, and speak with wisdom. We should pray that Christians who are directly affected will continue to trust the Lord and glorify Him in their pain. We should pray that the government's authority will accomplish justice for the victims. We should pray that the gospel will be clear and will be seen as an oasis of hope in the desert of this world. We should pray for the conversion of the young man who perpetrated this act. And the list goes on...
It is not my goal to propose any kind of policy, but it should be said that this is where many instinctively turn in a time like this. So, I want to address it. When it comes to gun laws or increased security or whatever proposed human solution may come, the Christian should think in terms of limitation rather than elimination. Laws and law enforcement cannot eliminate the kind of evil we saw this week; however, laws and law enforcement can be used by God to limit the reach and degree of evil in human society. In fact, that's why government exists. The government must work to protect its citizens, and we should be thankful that it does. It is a provision of God.
So, while we should discuss policies, beware of two extremes. First, beware of believing that laws have the ability to change human nature. They do not. Second, beware of believing that since laws can't change human nature, we shouldn't address the need for improvement. We should.
Policy can't change human beings, but the persevering work of the church in preaching the gospel can. By God's grace and the work of His Spirit, the reception of the gospel through faith changes everything. The gospel gives hope to those who suffer and grieve, for it points us to a Savior who knows what it is to suffer. A Savior who was the recipient of injustice. A Savior who has conquered even the grave.
In addition, God gives new hearts, new loves to those He saves through the gospel. He awakens in us a hatred for sin and a love for holiness. In part, this will mean a greater understanding of the sacredness of human life and a desire to protect it, from the womb on. Increased gospel love for human life in any society will result in the decrease of viewing human life as disposable.
Be pained. Be prayerful. Consider policy. Persevere in preaching the gospel. This is a good place to start.