Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang, bang, bang. Screams of horror join into the chorus of gunfire. Blood flows out of torn flesh and ripped emotions. Confusion fills the air with dread. Victims are trampled under the feet of those trying to escape the chaos. The whole world has gone dark. Suddenly nothing is gay anymore.
Life, again, is hanging in the balance between good and evil, split down the middle like, a photograph torn in two. And all we can say is why. It’s not a question. Not really. It’s a declaration of helplessness. Our strength runs red. Our independence fails us. Our values are shaken to the core. And our basic instincts take over as we pray for the news that the gunman is dead. Because, the madness won’t stop until the madman is stopped. Then, the final shot is fired and we, who hate hate and abhor violence, feel a secret rush of justice and satisfaction; good. He’s dead. Hell can have him.
And while it seems the world has been abandoned and God is nowhere to be found, the truth waits to be discovered; in this moment of terror, we’re closer to Him than we have the courage to imagine. Because, it’s in these moments of primal fear that our true self emerges; the self created in the image of God. The God who hates evil and the God who loves justice, and we find ourselves hating it with Him, as all creation cries, “Oh, God, help us.”
It’s a momentary brush of humility. A fleeting flicker of understanding. That the cause of Adam’s fall from grace was more than just an innocent nibble from a piece forbidden fruit. It was the first step into the Holy War that divided man from God, man from man, and Heaven from Hell. Sin. Is. Not. Small. It permeates everything we touch, and see, and smell, and feel, and think, and do. It is the book of Leviticus alive and unwell. It’s Ecclesiastes languishing in egocentric mediocrity. It can’t be hidden under the rock of denial, or covered over with a warm blanket of self-esteem, or explained away with cliches, or platitudes, or empty wisdom. It can’t be removed by trying harder to be better, or legislating against hate speech, or enforcing stricter gun control. And we can’t make it nicer by wearing peace signs on our tee shirts or crosses around our necks. It’s. In. Us. And no matter how hard we try – it’s still there. Until we cry, “Oh God help us” and mean it. And when we do – He does.
So, what does it matter? Proclaiming sin as the reason for this season of violence in America. It matters because as soon as we identify a problem we just can’t seem to keep ourselves from looking everywhere for the right solution. More gun control? Aha…more laws. Too many Muslims in our country? No problem, just send them all packing and then close our borders. Too much hate and not enough love? Easy. Outlaw hate speech and engage in random acts of kindness. Sin? Hmm. That’s a tough one. A little too close to home. But, then again, maybe not. Because maybe the only way to save a nation is one heart at a time.
There is a way that seems right to a man, until the terror of life and the fear of death causes us to run from all our little gods straight into the arms of God Most High crying the prayer that touches the Father’s heart, “Help me God.”
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8