We have had a rash of active shooter events in recent months and years. Numerous people have been injured and killed. Then we have the recent Kidnapping of Jamie Closs and the murder of her parents. Thankfully, she escaped alive and her kidnapper, and the murderer of her parents, has been captured. All of this leaves us wondering why this is happening and what can be done about it. The press reports on a multitude of opinions and practical solutions. Disagreement on the causes of and solutions for these crimes goes without saying and ends up with many opinions and solutions. But no one seems to be talking about the spiritual dimension of this tragic trend and other societal problems.
The elephant in the room is not “How this is happening?” but “Why this is happening?”. The fact is, humanity is by nature sinful, and we live in a very secular and post-Christian era in our country. Some will debate whether or not we were ever a Christian country. I think it safe to at least claim that we were once more Christian than we are now. For decades we enjoyed the benefits of just such a country and are now surprised when the moral benefits of a Christian country decrease along with the shrinking influence of Christianity in our country. In truth, the degrading moral climate along with the decreasing Christian influence in our country, is the elephant in the room, every time the press decries the latest atrocities, corruption, moral failures and crime in our country. This was predictable. Paul tells the Roman Christians some 2000 years ago;
“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.” Romans 1:28-29 NIV
The sin we see and deplore in our society is a result of the absence of God in people’s hearts and lives. We’ve done this to ourselves. We’ve kept quiet when we should be speaking out about what Christianity says about the problems of this world, their causes, and the solution. We’ve failed to address sin in the world and neglected to share the Love of God in Christ Jesus, which is the only solution to sin. Paul told Timothy;
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 NIV. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Tim. 2:5 NIV
Our God is an exclusive and jealous God who desires that all should come to the knowledge of the truth. And He says to us, His children, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt. 5:14). We believers are a light, to what is right and moral but more importantly a light to what God’s grace, love and mercy look like, for all who are searching. Our world needs a conviction of sin but also the promise of forgiveness and the definite hope of eternal life and heaven. The existence of evil in the world should motivate us to share our Christian faith with others.
In a society whose eyes are on Jesus, and whose heart and actions are guided by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, there will not be an absence of sin. However, there will be a greater likelihood that people will show greater moral restraint as well as practice greater love for others. We call this the “Fruits of the Spirit.” We know, teach and believe that God’s Holy Spirit works through His Word to bring people to faith and keep them in the faith. He also empowers faithful people to lead godly lives in thought, word, and deed by constraining them from evil and motivating them to do good works.
Still, our goal in proclaiming our Christian faith is not to make our streets safer, stamp out all sin, or establish a physical and/or political kingdom for Jesus on earth. After all, Jesus told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world (John 8:36). We do not preach the Gospel, confess our faith, or witness to others, because of the benefit to society and civil order. We preach the Gospel because of the benefit to individuals so that sinners may come to know Christ as their savior, enjoy His forgiveness and mercy in this world, and have the certain hope of spending eternity with Him. May God help us toward this end. Amen.