Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Christians Response to the Virginia Tech Massacre

As I have listened to the reports flowing in about what took place yesterday at Virginia Tech, I cannot help but hurt for the people who lost friends and family in this tragedy. But I must ask myself, "How as a follower of Christ am I to think about things like this?"

The honest truth is as weird as it may sound, this incident and others like it, affirms my faith In Christ and His word. The common questions when something like this occurs are, "Why?" and "What kind of evil is this?" "How could someone do that?" The ultimate answer is, "Because it fits into the ultimate purpose and plan of God."

Perhaps that answer makes you disgusted at me. "How could you say that! God is a God of Love!" Yes, God is a loving God. But God is a God completely in control of all things too. We are told that God ordained the death of Christ Himself. What was more evil than the murder of the Son of God?

Look at Acts 2:23.

"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men."

Whose "definite plan" was it that Jesus be crucified? God's. Who receives the blame? Lawless men. Make no mistake, God did not force this young man to murder 32 people and then kill himself. But God did ordain it to be so. God is in control of all things in this world. He has a purpose.

After Jacob (or Israel) dies, in Genesis 50, Joseph's brothers are fearful of him because they are afraid that Joseph will retaliate against them for all the wrong they did him by selling him into slavery. But what is Joseph's response? Genesis 50:20.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today."

Who would have known that by the evil of Joseph's brothers that one day Joseph would be put in a place by God to save the lives of so many people? But God had a purpose in what Joseph's brothers did. God had a purpose in planning the death of His own Son, that He might save those whom He chooses to save.

I look at the Virginia Tech incident and I can say that God is working even in that. God is not impotent. God was not unable to stop that from happening. According to Ephesians 1:11 God "works all things according to the counsel of his will."

I remember listening to John Piper talk about the death of his mother. He described the incident. She was on a bus, I believe on a mission trip, and a truck in front of the bus was carrying lumber. A 2x4 fell from the truck and came through the window of the bus and struck and killed John's mother. John struggled with the grief of losing his mother, like all of us would, but at the end of it all he was able to say something like this: "I would rather serve a God that planned my mothers death like that, rather than God who couldn't stop a single 2x4 from coming through a window."

We do not see what God has planned. But we can know that He is in control and in the midst of this situation. Perhaps God will use this to bring about the salvation of some students seeking for answers. Perhaps it will resolve someones heart to reach out to lost and hurting people who might otherwise do more of the same kind of violence. The truth is, we will probably never know what all God is doing through this, but we can be sure He has it under control and is working it out for His glory, and the good of those who love Him.

I would be remiss if I failed to point out that this affirms may faith in the teaching of Scripture about sin as well. We as people are born inclined and enslaved to sin. If not for the grace of God, who knows what I would be today. I used to be a very angry and somewhat violent person. Romans 1:28-32 nails it on the head about what we as humans are capable of.

28"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

It is by God's grace that His Spirit restrains much of the evil, otherwise we would see how bad it could really get. And we must remember in many places in the world, it is worse.

Sinful man, needs a perfect savior. This incident affirms my faith in Christ and His word as being true. And it also serves as a reminder to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world and pray for God to save souls as only He can.

-Jacob

14 comments:

Daniel M. said...

That is a well thought out post that holds true to scripture. Thanks for having the guts to post it.
Daniel

Barry said...

Jacob,

I read your first post and the subsequent comments. It's a rare occasion when someone says anything encouraging under an anonymous signature, whether it's in a letter or on a blog post. I know most pastors won't even read an unsigned letter. To say the things that your "friend" said is cowardice and unloving. I totally agree with what Pastor Steve said in his comment.

I like this post and how you articulated what the Christian response should always be. We trust God and know that He works everything to our good and to glorify Himself.

I listened to some of the speeches that were made today on the VT campus. They had four different religious leaders speak. President George W. Bush, a Muslim, a Buddhist, and a Lutheran pastor. Only the President mentioned scripture and alluded to the hope we know. None of the others described hope, not even the Lutheran. He was just all politically correct. He might as well have been the psychologist.

As believers in Jesus Christ we have hope that after we die we will be in present with the Lord.

Anonymous said...

What tragedy have you suffered?

-Bundy

risen_soul said...

Daniel,

Thanks for the friendly encouragement.

Barry,

Yeah it's rarely a good thing to accept criticism from someone afraid to leave their name.

Thanks for your encouragement on this post. Unfortunately many Lutherans are just pep talkers now days anyway, not all, but many. Martin Luther would have a cow if he knew what his name was attached to.

Bundy,

Giving previous comments from you I do not know if you're being sarcastic or actually wondering if I was connected to this event personally. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I am not personally connected to anyone at VT as far as I know. But with the mass media response a lot of people across this country are asking questions like "how could this happen?" or "What kind of evil is this?" I simply thought it proper to give a Christian response to such a tragedy, even though it did not effect me personally, or at least not directly.

Anonymous said...

No mate, I mean what tragedy have you every suffered? Have you ever lost a child to death or some other significant loss?
-Bundy

risen_soul said...

bundy-

No, I have been very blessed that I have not had to suffer the loss of my child or anything like that. However, if such were to occur, it would not change my faith in Jesus Christ one bit.

Anonymous said...

Mate, why do I strongly suspect that if you were to suffer as some have, your post would have been much different? I would contend that you haven't truly tasted how good the Father can be until you see how bad he can allow it to become as with Job. I understand that people have been saying "why" without looking to God for help, but you answer their question of why when you haven't been forced to asked it yourself.

-Bundy

risen_soul said...

Bundy,

Obviously you have an issue of some sort. Are you a professing Christian or perhaps an athiest who has suffered some sort of tragedy? I don't know where you are coming from.

I agree that it would be very different answering this question if it was in response to the loss of my wife or my child. I don't deny the genuine grief that people at VT are going through, and I'm not saying that it's easy.

My point was simply, since things like this occur, how should Christians respond biblically? When people come to Christians asking "why" what do we say? Rather than just saying "I don't know" or giving them an answer like "well God didn't want this to happen" which is unbiblical, how do we adequately answer this question Scripturally?

There may come a day where such a study becomes very personal and relevant in my own life. I certainly pray for God's protection over my life and that of my family, but who knows the will of God?

Even so, my answer would be the same: "God is God and I am not."

Anonymous said...

Mate, I do have an issue. There are times in which no answer should be given. A hand of mercy offered, but inexperienced words held back. I've been directly affected at how good the Father can be and I've suffered how terrible he can allow it to be as well. I used to be a pastor as well in a conventional evangelical church. I too quoted mass amounts of memorized scripture answering any issue, topic, or argument. I've been versed in the Bible since I can remember as my father was a pastor and his father as well. I've seen the rise and fall of great Christian leaders who had great zeal for their calling, only to be drop kicked by tragedy. The Father chose to take one of our children at an early age. He doesn't need to give me an answer, He's the one who created her and new her before time. A young lady that was in my assembly was raped and murdered. She was not a high risk individual at all. God is not obligated to give a reason for her demise. The list goes on, and for the past several years, I've been a part of tortuous learning experience. I've shaken a bitter fist to the heavens unleashing pain deeper than I ever knew. My heart can only be understood by those who also have seen the darkness of their own souls and still know that God values us. I have suspected that you have not undergone these rigors from your writings. Pain will change the way you communicate. You will never know this path until you are forced to walk down it, as perspective changes in the refiners fire. You will cease mastering the Bible and allow it to master you.

-Bundy

risen_soul said...

Well I'm truly sorry for your loss. I certainly don't mean to come off cold. But your point was basically mine, God doesn't have to give an answer, He is Sovereign God. But I think we can gather from Scripture the answers. They may not take the pain away, but they can make faithful believers long for home, with God in Heaven.

If I should have to suffer loss like you have, I'm sure it will be very hard. I'm sure it will effect the way I think about things. But I think it is foolish to say that I shouldn't bother to seek Scripture now for answers about such things. I believe the Bible to be God's revealed word and will. It holds the most meaningful answers one can find about any given subject.

By previous comments from you, apparently you consider me arrogant because I assert truth. But God is truth and I just want to know Him and make Him known as He reveals himself in the word.

I know I'm a flawed sinner, and I'm not always right. But I will assert the clear truths of Scripture whether people like you like it or not.

We never have the right to shake our fist at the heavens. God is God and we are not. Despite what the mormons teach we can be.

Anonymous said...

Mate, how stoic and brave you are considering your lack of experience.

-Bundy

risen_soul said...

Bundy,

If you really wish to sway people to think differently about any given issue, it might be helpful if you didn't act like an attack dog.

Anonymous said...

Mate, what difference is there between you and myself then? You do the same, only you find verses in the Bible to "support" your attacks and then claim truth. You wrote "I will assert the clear truths of Scripture whether people like you like it or not." I could easily refer to passages in the Bible and infer them to you, but I don't want to make the Father's word to be my excuse for calling you out. Also, if I were to use scripture to support what I'm stating, would that make it right? Not to you, because it would stand against you. Tragically, I suspect that no comment I or anyone can make will sway you, and on a side, I'm not trying to sway you from absolute truth. I'm trying to get you to realize that there are real people out here who have experienced and are experiencing things that you have no clue about and we are hurt by your flippant attitude. On top of that, you "use" the Father's word to excuse your comments and are commended saying you have the "guts" to do it.

-Bundy

risen_soul said...

My point dear sir, is that the first time you opened your mouth on this site was to be antagonizing. If you really think I am wrong about something than you should perhaps try an lovingly tell me what you think rather then be jerk about it.

I am comletely capable or error, and if you cna point out to me where I need to repent or change a view by fairly using Scripture then I will do so. I have conceded points to opponents before and made changes in my way of thinking.

I would be evermore willing to think things through from someone elses view point if they approached me with love rather than contempt.