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.