Something’s happening here…

This isn’t the article I should write this week.  It probably isn’t the one you planned to read.  This week is “Easter”.  I am supposed to be writing an article about Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection and I will, in a roundabout way, but I will preach on that this Sunday.  For now, I feel compelled to write something different.

I considered not even writing this.  Why?  Because there will be some of you who get angry with me before you even finish reading it.  But if you know me you know that once a thought takes root in my head I have to address it and this seemed like a good way.

Concepts and ways of thinking in our society change at a slow pace, you might say glacial.  Even today in the age of the internet it takes 20 years to change even 20% of the public’s mindset on major issues.  That is, generally, a good thing.  We shouldn’t be a society that blows, willy-nilly, on things of importance.

It does, however, have some major drawbacks.  If it takes the public 20 years to alter how they think about something, those changes generally take another decade or two before their effects really take hold in daily life.

The problem with this is that when the consequences of those changes are negative (and there are always some negative unintended consequences) it has taken a full generation for those consequences to impact the culture.  The populace which is seeing those consequences is largely made up of those who do not even comprehend where they came from.

In addition to that, the older people who were instrumental in bringing about the changes are generally going to fiercely deny that the consequences have any relation to the change they advocated for.  Thus you end up with half the populace ignorant of the relation of the change to the consequence and another quarter of them in denial about it.  So there is only one quarter of the population seeing that the change had anything to do with the negative impact and they end up being dismissed for the mere fact that they are fewer in number.

Now, where am I going with this?  Last week a terrible thing happened.  A police officer very near here was shot and killed.  “Well that’s nothing new.” You might think, and you would be right.  But it is what got me really thinking.  You see I know the details of this situation and they trouble me.

The police officer and his partner were going to serve an arrest warrant.  Unfortunately for them, the man knew they were coming and he laid a trap for them.  He waited for them inside his home with several large powerful guns on hand and sat in ambush.  When they came in he shot them both.  Then he turned his gun on himself.

Again, this isn’t a brand new thing, but I would suggest that it is something that is incredibly more frequent in recent years, in fact in this year it is far more frequent than in the last. And the ones before that were even less.

I find myself pondering “why?”  This man wasn’t public enemy number 1.  He really wasn’t even that significant of a criminal.  His crimes before this were rather mundane.  So why would he do this thing?  Why is this type of thing becoming so frequent?  Even if he didn’t plan to kill himself he would have little chance of surviving after this.  Right or wrong it is fairly common knowledge that if you gun down a police officer you probably will not be brought in alive.  Not many cops have an interest in you getting your day in court when you have killed one of their own, and even if they intend to try and take you, once you have demonstrated a willingness to kill a police officer, they aren’t going to take chances with you.  If you move wrong you will probably get shot (as I said right or wrong, this is generally the outcome).

So why would this man, and so many others, be willing to do these mind boggling actions?  Now don’t misunderstand me, I am well aware that there are many, complex issues involved here; mental illness, drug use, vehement festering hatred, among others.  But I think there is one underlying element here which, in itself, is only a symptom of something larger.

It is my belief that when someone looks at their life and they are fed up to the point where they think, I’m just going to kill a bunch of people and then “check out” it betrays a false thought.  A false thought that our society has taught for decades and that, unfortunately, many in the church have also been endorsing in ever larger numbers.

That thought is this-  That you CAN just “check out”.  This man who decided to gun down two police officers and then turn his gun on himself without a doubt believed that when he pulled that trigger he would simply cease to exist.  So sad for him that it simply is not true.

Society at large and much of the church has lied to people that there is no punishment in eternity.  That there is no Hell for unrepentant sinners and that when you die you either just stop existing or, even worse, everyone goes to heaven.  Even good, “conservative” preachers whom I know personally have bought into this.  I cannot stress it enough that THIS IS A LIE.

Again, please don’t think me a simpleton.  I know that murder has happened since Cain and I know that there have always been evil people in the world doing evil things.  But I cannot help but think that when we have gotten to a point where factory workers who simply didn’t like getting passed over for a promotion, or High School students who got fed up with bullying, or a common criminal who is only facing a short stint in jail get to the point where they go on killing rampages that will almost certainly end up with them dead, people simply don’t believe that there will be any punishment for them.  Satan has lied to us that death is a preferable alternative to temporary unpleasant situations and even the church is selling this lie for him.

As I stated earlier, this, although I think it is a major factor in why these things are out of control in our society, is only a symptom of something else.  The church and the Christians within Her have decided that God’s word is an optional buffet line and we leave behind anything we don’t like.

Don’t like what God says about your favorite sin?  Ignore it.  What God says about who is qualified to be an Elder in the church is unpopular?  Just do whatever you like.  People don’t want to think about unrepentant sinners going to Hell?  Tell them there is no such place.

We have replaced God’s word in our churches and in our culture with whatever people’s itching ears want to hear- and it is quite literally killing us.

I firmly believe that the man who, as his final acts in this life, killed another and then killed himself is going to be separated from God forever in Hell… and that is sad.

Right now there is someone reading this who is fuming mad “How can you say that Kevin?! You can’t judge other people!”  You are right, I cannot.  But God can, and He will and He has made it oh, so abundantly clear that unrepentant sinners will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.  And Ladies and Gentlemen, there is only one alternative and it is NOT ceasing to exist, it is eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire and the Bible is abjectly clear that the majority of people are going there.  Unless…

Unless they hear about what we are celebrating extra specially this weekend.  That Jesus Christ died on that cross for us, the sinners of this world, and then on that first Resurrection Sunday, He rose from the dead so that we too may live again.

Romans 6:1-10.  “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”