We know the story by now. A terrorist/mentally ill person/religious radical grabs a gun/bomb/other weapon and murders a bunch of random people who suffered the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We can blame the guns and agitate for stricter gun control laws. But consider: California already has the strictest gun control laws in the country. That didn’t prevent the recent shooting in San Bernardino. And as last month’s street violence New Orleans’ Bunny Friend Park so clearly proves, passing laws didn’t stop the gunman—a convicted felon—from owning firearms. In fact, all you need is a 3-D printer and you can manufacture your own guns! I suspect that if guns were unavailable, these killers would simply choose another weapon—bombs perhaps, or knives, as demonstrated by the current spate of stabbings in Jerusalem.
We can blame the media for making the shooters famous. Story after story analyzes everything from the childhood, friends, and neighbors, to the religious beliefs and lifestyle of each murderer. It’s well documented that such publicity inspires copycats. Want to have your moment of glory? Go kill a bunch of people!
Like the Washington Post, we can blame conservative Christian politicians for stirring up their fellow believers against institutions such as Planned Parenthood (although absolutely no one has suggested violence). While we’re blaming Christians, we can join the New York News in accusing them of praying, too. Then we can indict God for not answering in the way we want Him to.
We can blame the Muslims, since the shootings in California were carried out by a Muslim couple who had recently been to Saudi Arabia, coming back “more religious” (in the words of their neighbors)—although the majority of Muslims are not radicals who promulgate terror. Still, many Muslims do believe in violence, and their position is supported by certain verses in the Koran. Furthermore, radical imams are calling for Muslims to wage jihad wherever they happen to live. Muslim terrorists were certainly behind the Paris and San Bernardino attacks.
Mass killings are nothing new, although they seem to be on the increase. Wikipedia offers an incomplete, out-of-date “List of rampage killers” that goes on for page after page after page. Killings in Asia, Europe, the South Pacific, America. School massacres, workplace killings, religious, political or racial crimes, vehicular manslaughter, domestic violence. It’s a very long list, going back years.
Then I clicked on their entry for “mass murders.” Again,the list is long, very long. The article differentiates among mass murder by state (such as Nazi Germany or the USSR), terrorist organizations (ISIS, Al-Qaeda), and individuals. And again, mass murder is nothing new; remember Herod’s murder of the innocents.
What I have to conclude is that, sadly, humans are really good at killing other humans. We can point our fingers at this or that, and I’m sure there’s a bit of truth in many of our accusations, but the bottom line is that, while God is ultimately in control, the world is currently under the influence of the devil, and he hates us. Not only that, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
This doesn’t take God by surprise; Jesus knew it was coming:
… in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. (John 16:2-3)
Should this make us afraid? Jesus also said:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
The good news is that we know the end of the story, and God wins. The world is a dark place, but we have hope—we have Christmas: