Yesterday our nation stood in disbelief once again when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock stared down the barrel of a rifle and opened fire from the 32nd floor of his Las Vegas hotel room into a crowded field of over 20,000 people at a nearby concert and then killed himself.
Current reports say that 59 people have been killed with over 500 others wounded, marking this as the largest mass shooting in modern American history.
Today America continues to be stunned by yet another heinous act of violence. We are sad, outraged, and confused.
We know the details of who, what, and how. But we are all asking one question: Why?
Why would a man with no terrorist connections, no money problems, no history of mental illness, and no criminal record stockpile guns and murder dozens of innocent people?
It doesn’t make sense.
As both investigators and the rest of America are struggling to piece together a motive, we are left only to guess. We may never know why.
As moral creatures created in the image of God, evil naturally upsets us. Even if you don’t believe in God, you cannot help but feel that what happened in Vegas is not right.
There is something absolutely wrong about mass murder. It’s not the way things should be.
So we should mourn the loss of life and empathize with the families who lost a loved one. We should do what we can to help the victims and their families.
Every life is precious because all humans are made in the image of God. God values all human life and we should too.
But it doesn’t seem like enough because it isn’t. No amount of money or support can bring back what was lost. So what else can we do?
More or Less Guns?
Many people are making it political. All over social media, they are shouting, “We need less guns!” Or, “No, we need more guns!”
Sure, maybe fewer guns will make it less likely that a person will be able to stockpile so much firepower, and there won’t be as many victims in the future.
On the other hand, maybe more guns would allow someone else carrying a gun to fire back and slow the body count.
I’m no gun expert to speak into these arguments, but I wonder, aren’t we focusing too much on the murder weapon without addressing the murderer? Isn’t there a deeper root to the problem?
If someone killed my family with a knife, I could make it my life mission to change laws so that we had more or less knives in the world. And while the number of knife deaths may decline, would it stop people from killing?
Ever since sin entered the world, people have killed people. Whether it is with a fist, a rock, a sword, a gun, or a bomb, sin has always led men to murder.
The Real Problem
The root of the problem is not the weapon. The root problem is what’s inside the person wielding the weapon. It’s evil.
Human evil is not rational. We cannot always explain it. There isn’t always a clear why behind it.
Evil is a mystery and abomination. It was not part of God’s original design for creation.
The gun is the symptom of a deeper issue.
America has been in a path of sharp moral decline for decades. We celebrate men like Hugh Hefner and mock Jesus.
Are we partly to blame?
Long before Stephen Paddock pulled the trigger, he had already killed people in his heart. The Bible says, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer” (1 John 3:15).
The sin in his heart turned to murderous hate that led to his evil action.
The problem is internal. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22).
The problem is sin and human evil. It exists. It is real. In the aftermath of such a tragedy, we cannot deny it.
So what can we do about it?
A Call to Action
We can pray for Vegas, absolutely. But that’s not enough. We can and should do more. God works through prayer, but he also works through human action.
The only way to overcome evil is with good. As Paul writes, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
If we want to stop darkness, we need to bring more light to the world. It starts within our hearts.
The world is a dark place. We need more light, and Jesus is the light we need.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Christ alone has the power to bring people from darkness to light. And he has commissioned us, his followers, to help.
So here’s the question: What are we doing to make our corner of the world brighter? How are we reaching our neighbors, friends, and coworkers with the gospel?
My prayer in the wake of another senseless act of evil is that the church in America will awaken from our slumber and take action against darkness. May we redouble our efforts to bring the light of the Gospel to all people.
And may we be able to echo Joseph who said, “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” (Genesis 50:20).
Jesus is the hope of the world, not the president. Jesus is the hope of the world, not stricter gun laws. We will not find salvation in anyone or anything else (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the hope of the world. Period.
This will not be our last encounter with evil. The end of evil will only come on the last day when the trumpet sounds, Christ returns, and evil is thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:19).
But until then, we must continue love, do good, and spread the light of Jesus—eradicating evil in the hearts of all who will listen.