Two people have died and four students were hurt in a shooting on the UNCC campus yesterday afternoon. It was supposed to be the university’s last day of classes, but turned into a terrible tragedy. A suspect has been arrested, although his motives remain unclear.
Three of the four injured students are in critical condition. It is a horrific situation.
How do people of faith and especially followers of Jesus make sense of this? How do we respond to questions asked of us about this apparent senseless disregard of human life? The continued shootings and murder that happen too often in the American culture?
There can be only one answer: the brokenness of creation. In Romans 8:22, Paul addressed how creation groans for the day of redemption. It longs for the time when all sin is finally eliminated from earth and love consumes every part of God’s world.
When the Fall occurred in Genesis 3, God’s perfect harmony with creation was shattered. No longer was there harmony with God and humans, within nature, and within ourselves, but there was no longer harmony between humans. Love was replaced with hatred. Peace was consumed with bitterness.
Genesis 4 gives us one of the first painful evidences of the Fall: Cain started to hate his brother, Abel. His hatred consumed him. Eventually, he killed him. It was the first murder in the Bible. Millions of others have followed since.
How then should people of faith respond to this tragedy?
First, Christians grieve with those who are grieving. We mourn with those who are mourning. We share their pain as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Without offering pious platitudes, we let them know that we care and are there.
Next, followers of Jesus share his gospel of love and hope. We desire for their hearts to be filled with the love of Jesus, not hatred. We want his hope to replace their despair. His life to swallow up death.
Isn’t that the only way for these crazy killings to cease? All the guns throughout the world can be confiscated, but murders will continue. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Murder begins with the first angry thought. Conversely, for murders to cease, the first angry thought must be captured and jettisoned.
All humans must see each other as children created in the image of God. Though different, everyone must commit to protect each other’s right to live and pursue happiness.
Finally, we long for the day of redemption when Jesus will return and make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Until then, we groan as the world continues to experience pain and disappointment, but we groan with hope. We pray continually, “Come soon, Lord Jesus.” Only then will there be perfect harmony on earth. Only then will people choose to love, not hate. To give life, not death. To serve, and not be served.
Until that great day of Jesus’s return, may we all work hard for God’s kingdom to come, his will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. May loving God and neighbor be our highest priority.
That’s Jesus’s job description for all followers until he returns.