The thought of going into a theater with a loved one and having to leave them there as part of the crime scene, because they were killed by a gunman who opened fire on the crowd is almost too much to imagine. Yet this is what happened to several people last night. Events like the shooting in the Denver area at the opening of The Dark Knight Rises make you want to go home and sit with your family and friends, because you never know how long you will have them. They are also a terrifying reminder of how quickly sin can take those we love away from us.
Why do I say “sin” instead of “death?” First of all, it is because it was the sin of another person that took the lives of the 12 people in the theater and injured many more. Sin takes people away from us all the time, whether it be in senseless killings, drunk driving accidents, or drug overdoses. The sinful desires that reside in us all are constantly pulling us toward our own destruction or the destruction of others. There are other ways sin strips the people we love from our lives too. It can do it in the form of lust tearing families apart, abuse from those who should be our most trusted guardian, or simply someone’s ambition for power and wealth keeping them away from those who need them. All of these stem from the same source, sinful desires, and we are all susceptible to them.
Second, I say “sin” instead of “death” because ultimately sin is the reason there is death in the world in the first place. The reason any of us die is because of the curse of sin. Even when decent people face a terminal illness like cancer, though we cannot point to any specific sin that caused it, it exists because the world is fallen and tainted with sin. Events like this remind us that we will all lose people we love and we will all face death ourselves.
So why highlight such dark and disturbing thoughts on a Christian theology blog? I do so because there is hope. Though I certainly do not have all the answers as to why such a tragic event took place, or why one young man could be overtaken by such dark desires, what I do know is that all of this reminds us that things are not the way they should be. Death is around the corner, our own sinful desires pull at us, and the guilt for all the times we have fallen short makes death terrifying; because deep down we know the justice of a Holy God awaits us.
Where do we turn when all these realities stare us in the face? Modern technology cannot help us, entertainment is simply a band aid, drugs and alcohol only take us further down the path of destruction, and no amount of money and power can ward off sin, guilt and death. There is only one place we can go in times like this, and that one place needs to be able to subdue our sinful nature, purify us from the guilt of sin, and must have defeated death. This is exactly what Christ Jesus has done, and for those who trust in him, though we will still live in a fallen world, He has promised that He can change our hearts and make us new creations in Him. Through His death, He takes our guilt and bears the wrath and just penalty that we know we deserve. Finally, through His resurrection we find that He has defeated death, and no matter how our life will end here on this earth, we will live with him eternally where there will be no more sin, sorrow, guilt and death.
Don’t let the darkness of this event be swept to the side in an attempt to cope and hide from our own fears and failures. Look at it full in the face, and then look to the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, who is the answer to all our deepest anxieties. Draw near to him through faith and He will draw near to you. For He was offered once to bear the sins of many, and because He defeated death through His resurrection, He lives forever to make intercession for us, and we can live with him forever
May we all find comfort in Christ,