Coming home after a long break, the first news I was greeted with stepping off the plane was that there was an horrific massacre in New Zealand, perpetrated by an Australian. He has killed 50 people at two mosques. This is nothing but a terrible disaster, and one we should all mourn.
Even from a very early stage, there were evaluations on news websites of what was needed to prevent this from happening again. Discussion over gun laws and what was needed to make them stricter. Increased policing of social media and banning web forums or pages which spout certain types of intolerance and hate. Preventing certain politicians from speaking or making pronouncements, even removing some from office. In previous eras there were Christian campaigns which focused on many of these types of things think of some of the legislation passed by a Puritan dominated parliament when King Charles I was executed at the end of the English Civil War, or perhaps even the legislated banning of alcohol (Prohibition) in the United States.
There may be merit in some or even all of these ideas. We shouldn’t pretend that there isn’t something seriously wrong with our society when this sort of thing can happen here (and I know it happened in New Zealand, but there isn’t that much difference between there and here – we are very similar in most respects, certainly when compared with the rest of the world). And the fact that someone can obtain weapons to kill 50 people in a very short amount of time in two different locations indicates that some legislation needs to change.
But all of this, however important, will not actually deal with the problem, even if it suppresses the problem somewhat. Because the problem is not to do with laws and regulations, its to do with the human heart.
Someone hating a group of people (who they don’t know) enough to shoot and kill large numbers of them in an unprovoked attack is caused by their sinful nature. And that won’t be changed by legislation. That will only be changed by the work of God in their hearts.
Which is where Christians have a different solution to everyone else – something positive to offer, rather than just the negative of more rules and legislation (however important those things may be). Something that Christians should be able to proclaim to others.
That the real lesson we need to learn from this is that the human heart is wickedly sinful, and will always incline to damage and destroy what God has created. And the only solution to that is to have your heart transformed by Jesus. To have Jesus investigate your heart, reveal your sin, call you to repentance, and then transform you by and with the love of God.
Which can feel like its not concrete enough for us at times. We want something more solid. We complain that we can’t wait, we can’t endure the wickedness and sinful actions of others, and that we need to act faster, and that that will be sufficient. But Jesus demonstrated that God can and does work good even in the darkest and most sinful events – primarily on the cross.
Jesus does not coerce people with legislation. He offers to transform their lives through love. Not a love which scolds and heckles on social media. But a love with suffers for the sake of others. As it says in Philippians 2:
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
When conversations turn, as they will, to what should be done to prevent this sort of thing happening again – make sure that you say that while there are all sorts of things we can do to help, the only way to truly prevent this sort of thing is for all people to turn to Jesus to have their hearts transformed by love.