We have all been troubled and shaken by the horrific mass murder in Orlando early Sunday morning. We struggle to take in the devastating loss of life and the darkness of such hatred. As always in such tragedies, the news carried countless hours of reports, updates, stories, and descriptions. Sometimes in the midst of such carnage there are accounts of great courage and heart-rending tenderness. Most bewildering of all, is trying to make sense of the shooter, the killer, some mother’s son who came to believe that his murderous plan was justified, entirely appropriate, even God-honoring.
Listening to the reports, it seems that this senseless act of violence is being interpreted, discussed, and debated from a variety of perspectives. In the aftermath of all the killing, while dozens of bodies were yet to be identified, government officials labeled this shooting an act of terrorism. Politicians immediately began to debate our national strategy in the war on terrorism and how to defend against such “lone wolf” attacks. Or is this an immigration issue? Shall we ban all Muslims from coming to America, judging the many by the actions of the one?
Some commentators are talking more about gun control, wondering how a person being investigated by the FBI for his espoused ISIS sympathies could still legally buy an assault rifle. Others seem focused on the LGBT community as a target for these kinds of hate crimes. And, even as we think about all these issues the bottom line does not change – the murder of 49 innocent victims and countless others wounded physically or scarred emotionally from having witnessed such terrible trauma.
What goes on inside the human heart that gives rise to such hatred? How sick is our world that provides the soil in which hatred and intolerance can take root and produce such a deadly harvest? Ours is a world desperately in need of recall and redemption, a prodigal planet not yet willing to come home.
What shall we do? We pray for those who suffer, those who grieve, and we pray for those who are so disturbed and disillusioned that killing has more appeal than living. We light a candle in the darkness. We turn loose the love of Christ in a loveless world. We sow good seeds of grace, Gospel seeds, that can help and heal, turn and transform, soften and save. Against such love even this hateful world has no defense.
“For God so loved the world . . .” Everyone and each one. Always has. Still does. Always will.