I have nothing to add to all that has been said regarding the tragic events in Connecticut last Friday. But I pastor a church and instead of preaching from what I had prepared last week, on Sunday I preached in relation to the massacre in Newtown. Every Tuesday I post excerpts from the message on Sunday and that is what you will find below. I wanted to speak as a pastor to his people about a horrifying event. You can find more well thought out and more profound comments elsewhere. This is just some thoughts from a little pastor in a little church to help his people, if possible, maintain a biblical response to such things.

Some points regarding a culture where such things happen:

Genesis 6:5 – The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Thoughts About Our Culture

1. First of all we rejoice in what we see in the world’s reaction to this tragedy. People are created in the image of God – the outrage and anger and horror is a reflection of the image of God in us. God is angry at this. And when people get angry at such things, they reflect the image of their Creator, even if they deny Him.

2. This is not a time for Christians to spout off about a culture getting what it deserves or people having made their beds now needing to lie in them. There is no room here for an “I told you so” attitude. We can see where our culture is reaping what it sows. We can see the vacuity of its philosophical base. We can see the hypocrisy that gets expressed and the futility of their solutions. But we must not gloat – for but for the grace of God we are that culture calling out to all the wrong places and  longing for solutions that will not satisfy.

3. This is evil. It is wicked. It is vile and demonic and a tool of the evil one – There may be something to be said about gun control, mental illness, divorce, school security … but this man was evil. People will blame the culture that has been erected in the U.S. People will blame his parents. People will blame a myriad of things and they may all be relevant in some way to understanding the twisted mind of a twisted man. But no matter how much we explain what he did, we need to also remember that none of those explanations get him off the hook. We can explain something without excusing it. What he did was evil and what he did was evil because he was evil. There are thousands upon thousands of neglected and abused children and children of divorced parents and mentally ill people and loners and social misfits who never resort to such things. Murder cannot be explained away on the basis of psychology or sociology. Genesis 6:5 was true of the people before the flood and it is true of people today. The point of Genesis 6 is to point to the need for the promised child of Genesis 3:15. And He is where we need to look.

4. The world seeks for answers in scientists and sociologists and psychologists and counsellors. In the media contact an endless list of “experts” asking them how this could have happened. Our culture has replaced the truth of the Scriptures with experts in the human mind and behaviour. It will not look to those who study the Scriptures for an answer to how this kind of horror can ever take place.

Real life is what Christianity is about. We say we believe, but when something like this happens, we, like the rest of the world, often run to newscasters, university professors, psychologists, sociologists … . Nothing wrong with all that I suppose unless we have become so much like the culture that we too believe that the church of Jesus Christ has nothing to offer in times such as this. Yes, there were churches open all weekend in Newtown for people to congregate and pray and support one another. But it is the psychologists whom we trust and what they tell us that all this church attendance is a matter of mutual support. If the gathering was in a mosque or a Buddhist temple it would be viewed as just as relevant and just as helpful. And there is a certain amount of truth to that as well. Mutual support if important. If I were in Newtown today I would be going to the “multi-faith” service that is being held. But that service is not necessarily people reaching out to the God of Scripture. It is people reaching out for anything that will help them make sense of what is utterly senseless. After 9/11 church attendance spiked for a while. But in time it went back to normal – because people stopped needing the support that the fellowship in a church gave them. Church had been no more than a therapy. Good that it can be used for such purposes, but it is not a looking to God in utter dependence on Him. It is God, being a port in a storm.

5. Atheism has nothing to encourage us in times like this. When something like this happens, non-believers fuel up with their questions such as “Where was your God when that happened?”, “What kind of loving God would allow such things to happen if He really has the power to stop it?” … And many believers buy it and think that atheism has the upper hand in the face of such horror. But I want to ask the atheist this – “what makes this wrong?” Why is it wrong to kill someone? Why is it wrong to kill two classrooms full of school children? What makes us recoil in unbelief that anyone could be so sick, so evil, so twisted as to do what he did on Friday?  If there is no God then how can we say that anything is evil or twisted? It is wrong because we are made in the image of God and God hates murder. He has a special love for innocent children and He passes that into us as human beings. God is the God of life and He has put in us a love for life and peace and safety. Sin has warped this all out of shape in all of us but love for life and beauty is part of what we are. In some, their sinful hearts are gotten hold of by evil and neglect and the devil himself and they maintain much less of God likeness than the rest of us, and they live out what evil exists to do – kill and destroy what is innocent. But unbelief is inconsistent when it says that there is no God and then say that this was wrong. If there is no God there is no wrong.

Thoughts About the Church

Matthew 2:[16] – Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. [17] Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

[18] “A voice was heard in Ramah,

weeping and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

1. We need to think like Christians

a. What does the Bible say about the human heart?

b. What does the Bible say the solution to such horror is?

c. How should believers and their children live in the kind of world we live in? We are called, not to hide from this world, but to go into it.

d. We are in spiritual warfare and there are times when it shows itself in our own neighbourhoods in a manner that shows us that such is the case.

John 8:44 – You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

2. One Christian writer noted that considering what Herod did to the baby boys in Israel in Matthew 2 that it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We read that text every Christmas. We know it is there, but we can read it like it is not. It does not grab the heart. We are able to read it and not be moved, and not think of mothers in Israel mourning and weeping and grieving over what one of their rulers had done. There were no policemen running to capture the perpetrators in Bethlehem. The perpetrators were policemen. There were no trauma teams and counsellors rushing to provide assistance. There were certainly no political leaders promising to do something about a society that had become too violent. Political leaders ordered it to take place. And look what God the Father did to protect His Son from this onslaught of Herod. Matthew 2:13-14. He sends an angel to tell Joseph to flee for the safety of the Son of God!! And the reason for pointing this out is this: Christians should not think that the Bible sugar coats life. And they certainly should not think that in Bible days things were better and there was a miracle on every street corner every day and life was just hunky dory. Not at all. We do not watch the news from Connecticut and wonder why God is not acting like He used to. The Bible is not about showing us how glorious things were in the good old days. It is about showing us just how much the world needs the baby who was born. It is about showing us what sin does to the human heart and the world and that the only salvation from both of those things is Jesus Christ. Why didn’t God prevent Herod from killing innocent children in Bethlehem? I don’t know. No one does. Why didn’t He stop things from happening on Friday. I don’t know. No one does. But we do know that He has told us that this is what our world, away from God, is like. And I know that He tells us the solution to it is Jesus Christ. And I know that we are told that our calling is to go into this world, not because it is safe and not because it is fun, and not because we will be so gloriously received. But because it is so needy and so lost and so wicked.

The Christian response to this tragedy is not “What is the world coming to?” The Christian response, at least from a theological perspective is “This world needs Jesus Christ”. The Christian response is that this is what the Bible tells us about the human heart. Even Jesus Himself had to be protected against the kind of person that walked into that school on Friday. The Christian response is to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.

3. The human heart is so depraved and dead in sin that even the Son of God, who came into the world to save it, is not safe from political rulers who would rather He die than save them. Herod was a Jew. He knew of the promised Messiah. He was not unaware of the prophecies of Scripture. He calls in the chief priests and scribes to interpret the Scriptures for him about the Messiah’s birth place. He knows he is trying to kill the promised Saviour of Israel. This is why Jesus came into the world. And we need to see that the events of Friday are why He came as well.

4. Children shouldn’t die. They shouldn’t die at the hands of a mad gunman. They shouldn’t die in the streets of Gaza or Jerusalem. They shouldn’t die in disease infested dumps. They shouldn’t be sold as sex toys and slaves. And if Jesus hadn’t come into the world there would never be a hope that such things would ever end. And if Jesus hadn’t come there wouldn’t be Christian witness in those dumps and rescuing children from the sex trade and providing food for the hungry as the very hands of Jesus. This is why we have Urban Promise in this building four days a week working with the children of the community. This is why we are reworking our Sunday School programme. This is why we go to the Flea Market to hand out Bibles and literature. This is why we have a youth group. That is why we support missionaries. It is why we are in Rexdale. So, our response to such things is not to hide away from the world. It is to go into the world. This world. This world with its hate and murder and horror.

5. There is coming a day when there will be no more sorrow or sickness or death or pain. That is the hope of the Gospel. Until the consummation of the age we will continue to have such things as happened on Friday, continue. But we work for the betterment of the world because we believe that all is not lost. There is a better world coming and we want everybody to get in on it. And if we really do want that, then we must seek to give it the news it needs to believe to have the hope that we have. Could we get hurt? Jesus said we would. Could we die? Many have. Can we lose? Not for a moment.

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