I have been doing a lot of reflection on the recent church shootings in Colorado. I have wanted to write about this for a while, and have been reflecting on this hoping for some level of understanding. At the expense of making some terrible generality, I want to comment on the tragedy. And even perhaps touch on an even greater tragedy in the Church in America today
As a reminder, last Saturday evening, December 8, Matthew Murray showed up at the doors of Youth With A Mission, a center that trains youth to serve as oversees missionaries. While there, he opened fire; killing two young staff members, and injuring two others, one in critical condition. About eleven hours later, he shows up at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, about 80 miles away, again opening fire. In the parking lot, he killed two sisters in their mid-teens, and injured their father. Then he entered the church with about a thousand rounds of ammunition, where he was shot by a volunteer security guard.
What would make someone snap like this? Matthew was brought up in the church, and certainly knew all about the Christian faith. In fact, he was serious enough about his faith that he himself wanted to become an overseas missionary, and was enrolled in the Youth With A Mission program a few years ago. When a mission’s opportunity came up, he was overlooked. I’ve heard two explanations for this, either the staff didn’t feel he was ready, or there was a health issue that prevented him from going on this particular assignment. Either way, he didn’t go.
I don’t know what happened in the years after this incident that would cause him to snap and seek revenge for the “hurt” that was caused.
However, a comment that I will make is that while he knew in his head the teachings of Christ, it might be safe to assume that those teachings never got into his heart.
While he knew of
Jesus, he didn’t know
Jesus. Evidentially he fooled a lot of people. Perhaps Youth With A Mission discovered that he wasn’t really surrendered to his faith. Or perhaps there really was a health issue and they were fooled, too.
There are several differences between knowing about Jesus, and knowing Jesus. One of the differences is surrender. When you really know the person of Jesus, you will give yourself to him completely. You will be surrendered to Him. It will no longer be about what is best for you, it will be what is best for Jesus.
Another difference is the Holy Spirit. When we truly know Jesus, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. When we have the Holy Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control) begin to manifest themselves in our lives. We are not capable of committing the tragedy of December 9, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
The point I want to make is that our church pews are filled with people who know about
Jesus, but don’t personally know Jesus. The greatest tragedy in our church today is that we don't realize that our faith is not about a religion, doing the right things at the right times – it’s about a relationship with the God who created us and loves us and wants us to love Him and to love others.
Without the relationship, there is no Holy Spirit. Without the relationship, we are just going through the motions. And if that’s the case, it may only be the grace of God that we don’t snap as well….
Your comments are welcome.