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Virginia Shooting: A Christian's Response
Earlier today at 6:45 a.m., a horrifyingly sinful act was witnessed when three innocent people were gunned down in Moneta, Virginia during a live WDBJ-TV interview: a reporter (Alison Parker, 24), a cameraman (Adam Ward, 27), and a woman being interviewed (Vicki Gardner). It is heartbreaking that both Alison and Adam were killed, but I'm grateful to the Lord that Vicki has already undergone surgery and is in stable condition.
Though I'm aware of the evil in this world, I was still stunned by this act of violence by Bryce Williams (legal name: Vester Lee Flanagan) who was once a reporter and co-worker of both Alison and Adam at WDBJ. Two hours after the shooting, Williams faxed a 23-page manifesto to ABC News. In this manifesto, Williams claims that he was racially discriminated against and harassed by black men and white women because he was a homosexual black man. Williams also stated that he's "been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!" and that the church shooting in Charleston was the final spark that ignited his bustling fuse. Sadly, he also stated what many who are lost in their sins say—that God told him to do it. But those of us who truly know God, know this is not true. And my heart grieves for others who, like Bryce Williams, are completely deceived by their own sin nature.
It seems lately, that every time we watch or hear the news, there's always something that tempts us to fear man rather than God. There seems to be constant heart wrenching news about violence and the increasing depravity of man being celebrated while character, honor and holiness is being beaten to a pulp or threatened to be silenced. So what's a Christian to do? We are to do what we should always be doing—getting on our knees: repenting of our sins, asking God to forgive others, and praying for the wisdom, courage and love to do what's right in God's sight.
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him [the Almighty] who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
-Matthew 10:28, ESV
News like this senseless and tragic shooting today, should not rattle or frighten a Christian or scare us into remaining in more of a Christian bubble than some of us already are. News like this should wake up the idle Christians from their selfish stupor and exhort the faithful Christians to continue preaching the Gospel with more compassion and urgency. Ultimately, there is no human program, law or institution that can or will stop the cause of these continual evils we inflict upon one another. The only solution, the only true hope and help for anyone, is to hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So before you decide to judge, hate and call Bryce Williams ugly names, remember that we're all capable of such heinous crimes. Remember that in the sight of the one and only holy God, we all have sinned the greatest sin—rebellion against God Almighty; therefore we all deserve the greatest punishment—eternal damnation in Hell. But because God is gracious and full of mercy and compassion, He crushed His own Son, making Christ the propitiation for our sins. Making Him who knew no sin to be sin for us—us, who knew nothing but sin prior to the Father's gift of faith in His Son.
Remember what the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write to the Ephesians. Then pray for Bryce Williams' family and friends and others like him. Pray for God to grant them all the gift of repentance that leads to saving faith in Jesus Christ. And be brave—pray for God to give you opportunities to share the Gospel of His grace with others, even people you may feel uncomfortable or fearful around (homosexuals, drug users, or simply people who aren't like you).
"And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus"
-Ephesians 2:1-6, ESV