In a single month, while our nation was still trying to catch its breath after the slaughter of shoppers in Buffalo, New York, and the assault on a church in Laguna Woods, California, the horror of the massacre of children and their teachers in Uvalde, Texas, has caused grief on top of grief and mourning on top of mourning. We join with the survivors and their families as we “…weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 ESV).
How anyone could have such hate and rage that they could kill random people, especially little children, is mind boggling. Yet, it happens more often in places around the world than is reported by our media outlets and more than the American public would like to consider. The cowardly, rage filled murderers that committed such atrocities are a symptom of a deeper problem… the sinful human heart. While not all sinners will actually commit murder, all murderers do so because they are sinners. Jesus made it clear that such violence begins in the angry, rage-filled, heart when he said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…” (Matthew 5:21–22 ESV). As was the case in these painful instances, and is often the case, such uncontrolled rage grows from mental illness, emotional abuse, and bullying mixed with the devaluing of life. When life is not seen as sacred, the lives of others won’t matter and will have no value and can be treated with hostility. When the Giver of Life is not feared and is disregarded as mere superstition, the restraints that prevent expressions of rage and acts of murder are greatly diminished.
But life is sacred because it is given by God. Human life is sacred because we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). The less this is denied and the more this is taught and believed, the more concern there will be for human life and the more care will be offered to those who suffer from mistreatment or mental illness before they turn to violence for erroneously imagined relief. We cannot stop people from becoming murderous monsters, but we can address the societal values and practices that aid in turning them into monsters. This is pro-active instead of merely reactive. For Christians, this is embracing and acting on what our Lord said in Matthew 5:9 (ESV); 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”