A TV crew went to work on a sunny summer morning to do an interview about tourism at Smith Mountain Lake. Never did they imagine that an angry and calculating man would exact revenge on them for what he perceived to be unfair treatment two years prior.
Our prayers are for the families and friends of the victims who lay to rest their loved ones this past week. May God comfort them during this difficult time.
Our President was quick to jump on gun control as the perfect solution to such acts of violence. This politicizing of human tragedy used to promote an ideology saddened me. Gun control is not going to stop what happened at Smith Mountain Lake.
Then there was the routine lament about the need for better mental health screenings. Yet it appears that the TV station’s management acted very responsibly; they were acutely aware of the shooter’s problems, took action to protect their staff, and recommended counseling. It would be unrealistic for any company to continuously monitor the behavior of a disgruntled ex employee for two years being vigilant for possible signs of acting out.
As is often the case with these shooters, the gunman wanted to outdo his predecessors. He wanted us to share in his cowardly act. So he used his video skills and social media to document the horror. Social media were his distribution channels. His message? I’ve been wronged, offended, hurt, I have grudges…so watch me get my revenge!
Unless he broadcast his intentions to hurt these specific people, it’s unlikely anyone could have seen this coming. And that is what disturbs us. We can’t predict how evil presents. So we try to lay blame…if only he didn’t have easy access to guns, if only he had been picked up by the mental health system… but how can we contain evil?
To successfully fight evil, you have to change a person’s heart. That transformation changes bitterness to forgiveness and brings a refusal to repay evil for evil. Without a change of heart, evil will continue to be acted out.
Spiritual solutions are rarely discussed in our culture these days. Yet, solving spiritual problems with secular solutions is a non-starter. Ephesians 6:12 says,
“We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.”
And when humans are the face of that evil, we fight the darkness with the light of Christ. We stop evil with changed hearts. But that won’t make the news-talk cycle.
So while the media pundits argue for gun control and better screenings, I pray that we do a better job addressing the spiritual condition of peoples’ lives, that the church continues to push back the darkness with the light of the gospel, that lives will be transformed. This was the message of those gunned down in Charleston and this is a message we need to remember.