Aurora Shootings—My Lack of A Take

The shooting is over, the dead are dead, the wounded are recovering and the nation is busy tweeting about things they really don’t understand.  I am sure that there will be news coverage of the first few funerals and maybe when the last body is laid to rest.  Then everyone will go back to the next pretty, or shocking, object that will pass before their eyes.  Breathless posts, cries of denouncement, blustery replies of support and the ever present call for more legislation.  So what?

Twelve people were killed in Aurora, but meanwhile in Chicago, just a short drive from where I live, twenty-seven humans were murdered in July and in July of 2011 fifty-five were murdered.  How they were killed matters little.  Some shot, some stabbed, some….whatever.  The point is that they are dead, just as dead as those in Aurora.  In fact all of them are as dead as the guy who died in the oncology ward of St. Luke’s last night.

Pretty harsh of me, right?  Yep.  Because death is harsh and real and happening in front of all of our lives every day.  I keep waiting for that call that one of my parents has died.  It hasn’t come yet, but that doesn’t change the harsh reality that it will, and when it comes it will be nasty punch to my gut.

We can wax on about whether this shooter was a criminal before he got the guns, or if the availability of guns made him a criminal.  But who really cares.  Our country sees the right to carry a gun as a basic right.  We can mumble under our breath what we would have done if we were there, but that is only because we are sipping on our McCafe coffee checking for any new, unimportant updates on Facebook or pinning something to Pinterest or checking the latest baseball stats and not in a dark theater where people are dying.

My point is really basic.  So basic that it can come across as unfeeling.  But feeling one thing or another doesn’t change a dead body.  It doesn’t make a person alive again.  I think of Jesus weeping when Mary is so grieved about the death of her brother.  But His feeling was not what she needed, not in the ultimate sense, she needed the One who alone possesses life and can conquer death.  She needed the One who could casually command Lazarus to come forth from the grave.  Fortunately, that is who stood with her weeping.

Listen, for I shall tell you all a dirty, little secret.  You are going to die.  You will die by a bullet, a heart attack, a nasty virus, a car wreck or perhaps because you had some young punks decide to play a “game” and punch you a bit until you fall and strike your head.  Does it really matter?  Really?  For me, I try to keep the “after death” thought before me more than the “I hope I die in my sleep” thought.

If there is nothing beyond the now, then death of any type has no meaning, it is just part of our sad, pitiful existence in a machine that does not think and does not care.  So we gnash our teeth at nothing and then descend into the grave to become dirt.  All those swirling about above us with candles and crosses and notes of “I will never forget you” mean nothing, because you and they are nothing.

But, if this is not all, if you are truly an image bearer of the one true God.  If you are truly an eternal being as the Bible says you are, then there is much more.  And what matters after that bullet enters your brain is infinitely more important than anything else.  We all shall die, and we all shall stand before our Creator.  Without the One who conquered sin and death there is something far worse than merely a bullet or a virus.  Instead you will have the eternal wrath of God upon you.

Luke 13:1-5 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

This event in Aurora will be like countless other ones that happen every day throughout this world.  Will the brevity of life cause you to stop, consider eternal things, and seek after God?  Shall you put away your vain efforts to prove yourself worthy of God’s favor and instead turn to the only one who conquered sin and death, Jesus Christ?  Or, have you already begun to descend back into that fuzzy existence of the mundane?  Let me recommend a simple book to read and real carefully.


About Matt Henry

Middle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.

Posted on July 23, 2012, in Bible Observations, gospel, Missional, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Your lack of a take is said well.

  2. Plenty of us to help you dig yourself out, but we know it’s not needed. I find your take compassionate as it addresses the truth of death and dying in a realistic manner. It is far more unfeeling and cruel to lie or to mince words about a subject so universal and especially to those who need to wake up from their sleep and denial. Thank you for faithfully reminding us that life and death reside comfortably in the sovereign hands of our Creator, and that He dispenses both in absolute perfection. In other words….what Bruce said……:)

    • You are welcome. I appreciate the cross post on FB. May it cause some, if not many, to rethink things a bit.

  3. Thank you for this post,and amen for the honesty of your words. I was criticized earlier this week for having a strong opinion on this matter.

  4. Well done Matt. I agree that it sounds very cold and unsympathetic but I think you are right that they are no different than all the gang deaths in Chicago or the 7,000 plus children who die every day from starvation. This should start a conversation!!

  5. As I was reading this I kept thinking, “well said!”, I see P Bruce beat me to it. I did enjoy this truthful read. I love the scripture reference that went perfectly with your comments. Thanks for faithfully preaching it!

  6. do you need friends? real ones you can talk to ? real alive people who are in the now as in , have a beating heart. Is this ultra-blunt attempt at commentary a cry for attention? you make it seem like everyone gets murdered. Deaths from guns in the U.S. last year over 11,000 , in Japan just over 10. Are you some how not seeing this, does faith like you have it or as you see it also make you blinds to the facts of the REST OF THE WORLD. Sorry to say but just like a typical head in the dirt American you forgot to factor that little bit in called all other country’s, all other faiths, and also statistics in general. I hope you live long enough to learn every little bit of your philosophy has come from a western interpretation of an eastern religion. Your just like the Aurora shooter, blasting your opinions at the random person who was just trying to have a good time , I’m sorry we all got caught in the crossfire. Please don’t go back to your car to reload , just give up and read some books written within the last 1500 years. One more thing, sending an overly thought out, snarky reply would not be considered turning the other cheek , just like your initial comment. What would Jesus do ? Weep, offer support, and keep his demon brain comments to himself. Repent means turn around. Repent. Now then, what will you do with the rest of your life?

    • Well Brian, you managed to say a whole lot of nothing in just a few short sentences. I would simply ask you to show where my post had anything to do with guns, pro or con, other than stating the obvious about the 2nd Amendment being a reality. I would ask you to show me how I have read into an “Eastern” religion with a “Western” interpretation. Your last few lines really say nothing other than you dumping a bit of anger on me.

      Be honest at least Brian. At no point did you deal with the central point of the post, you will die and that is non-negotiable. No idea what you believe. My point was to those who hold to a Darwinistic worldview, that they have no answer for the shooting and no hope because nothing actually means anything. And when you say that you know what Jesus would do then you obviously have not read the Bible, most certainly not the Gospels, because they contradict you on every step. You failed to note that I pointed out about Jesus weeping, but that the real need of the day was the fact that He raised Lazarus, I will take that any day over offering me support. You also failed to interact in any way with the passage that I quoted, which were Jesus’ words.

  7. oh , got it , sorry you just sounded snooty, i hate that , got me going , peace yo

  8. Pastor Matt, it took me a little bit to digest your post, mostly because I felt that more could have been said regarding the extreme illustration of depravity in the Aurora shootings, and that they were. However, reflecting on it, I can’t chalk it up to anything but that- the same human depravity that resides in me when I sin, become angry with my wife, or when my children avoid cleaning their room, or that urges teenagers 20 minutes south of us to shoot each other in gang wars. The same depravity that sent Jesus to the cross, of course. I suppose this is what we are really talking about with Holmes, nothing new.

    While I can imagine this iteration of human depravity was produced with an abnormal set of circumstances (I’m guessing lack of attention from Mom and Dad, obsession with video games, worship of success, lack of support from friends, family, etc.), it seemed to me there’s no real difference. There’s no “him versus us.” There’s just one person who was allowed to go a little further down his natural path. This seemed to me the piece I thought was missing. As you said, the world is searching for an answer, but of course they cannot accept it, it’s not new, it’s not shiny, it’s the same gospel that is and always calls them to repentance. Therefore, it is ignored.

    Thanks for posting, it caused me to consider the gospel more than I had been.

  9. I found this ‘take’ on the shootings very honest and truthful from a Christian point of view which is ultimately the only ‘valid’ one since Jesus Christ is the one true foundation for life. That will be argued against yet it remains so, which is not to say that I am against the individual’s freedom to take time to come to that understanding.

    I can see that it would have been a lot easier to go along with the wave of emotion that I imagine began with the first news broadcast. I also imagine that the relatives of those concerned might be asking questions like ‘Why did it have to be my loved one? Why did God allow it to happen to them?’ Don’t take this as a criticism of your take on events, it is not intended that way. What I mean is, to give you an example from closer to home (I am a Brit), many prayed for the Chilean miners, who were rescued; many also prayed for some Welsh miners who were also trapped, but who sadly died. Why is it that the God who chose to raise Lazarus though not others who he might have done, chose to answer the intercessions of many Christians throughout the world who joined in prayer for the miners in both situations?

    I do not intend this as a kind of trick question, I feel it is valid to ask such questions even if the only answer ‘for now’ might be that some things remain a mystery until the day when all is made clear and we are all delivered from this ‘vale of tears’. My heart goes out to the relatives of those who were gunned down and I pray that God will comfort them as they come to terms with the reality of what has happened.

  10. As I just finished reading this, I can hear on the news the report that 4 people have just been shot outside the Empire State Building. Are you ready? “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.: Prov. 27:1 Pastor, thank you for the real reality check of what we really need to be thinking about.

  1. Pingback: The Aurora Shootings and My Pastor’s Lack of a Take « Stuff That Interests Me

  2. Pingback: Aurora, Chicago and Guns—A Little More Comment « Missional Meanderings

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