Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:16-18)

The killing of 19 elementary school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas was a nightmare beyond nightmares. It seems far beyond our imagination and our human limits to imagine someone would do such a thing. Families are understandably inconsolable over the horrific events inflicted upon their children and families in a senseless shooting. It is of course, the deadliest elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut about a decade ago. Apparently, the gunman acted alone but initiated this horror by first shooting his grandmother and then posting threats on social media before he crashed his grandmother’s vehicle at the elementary school and he began executing everyone in his pathway.

Unfortunately, these events are not new. Back in the first century, when Jesus came into the world, we had a similar horror inflicted on an innocent community by a dictatorial maniac named Herod. Considering the potential threat of a new king rising from among the Jews, Herod had every infant, two-years-old and under, slaughtered based on when the magi had predicted the new king of the Jews was born. The startling, and somewhat disturbing insertion was that this fulfilled what the prophet Jeremiah spoke about in Jeremiah 31:15, which is directly quoted in Matthew 2:18. A detail for another article.

Obviously the question is how do we begin to understand such things in our world?

First, there is evil in the world and that evil infects all humanity. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:3). If you cling to the idea that humanity is “basically good” then you might be shell-shocked by inhuman behavior. Unfortunately, the Scriptures are clear – “There is none who does good. There is not even one.” (Rom. 3:12). The issue is not just an inability to do good, it is the potential to do evil.

Secondly, all human beings are broken, dysfunctional and messed up. The difference here is that those who have been badly hurt, abused, and exploited end up with much pain and bitterness in their life. If that is not dealt with, then they inflict that pain on others. The old saying is true: broken people end up hurting others. Those who have been hurt badly end up hurting others badly. The struggle is how we label people who hurt others. Are they really messed up because they have been the victims of the moral evil of others, or are they just evil and hurt others? To some extent the answer is both. People struggle if punishing those who have been victims is right to do because they are acting out of their pain. Can we really punish or condemn people who are severely broken? Evil people are much easier to deal with because they get what they deserve.

Third, we all have our own brokenness and evil that infects our heart. The evil that invades and fills our hearts is unfixable. We do have the ability to manage and restrain our “stuff”, to one degree or another, but we can all say or do things that inflicts some incremental amount of evil on others. It can be judgement, bitterness, condemnation, and a host of other expressions of our own brokenness. Sometimes we surprise even ourselves (and others) by acting way outside of what we think we are capable, and doing things that we instantly try to defend, “that is not me… I don’t know why I did that”. However, these extreme expressions of evil are disturbing and incomprehensible, and we assume we are not capable of such things. But the problem is the same and the solution does not change either.

The ultimate hope in any context is God’s love demonstrated in Christ’s sacrifice. Christians are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We are only “perfect” in God’s eyes because of the righteousness of Christ. But the whole journey of life is about our personal transformation from “finding our own way” to surrendering to living God’s way. God has given us all the resources necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4) which includes the personal presence of the Holy Spirit and the deposit of revelation called God’s Word as our trusted resource of wisdom to make life choices that are not intuitively in line with our common sense.

We need to allow God’s love to teach us to love everyone. Remember, love is not the same things as acceptance. Romans tells us that “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…” (5:8). For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…” (5:10). God loves the whole world but ONLY accepts people as family when they surrender to Him through faith in Christ. Through surrender by faith, God forgives and reconciles horribly broken and evil people to Himself where He accepts them as family. Obviously, the cross of Christ is the ultimate picture of moral evil against the perfectly innocent. He calls us to keep loving those who do not deserve His love because that is the way God has loved us.

Do we need to forgive people who do evil?  There are a couple of ways to think about this. Obviously, those who are direct victims of evil are the ones who are directly confronted with this dilemma. The rest of us stand against all evil and especially that all moral evil is wrong no matter who it is directed. Remember some of Christ’s last words on the cross, “Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.” We must remember that justice will never be satisfied here on earth. Sometimes they get it correct and sometimes not. I have rarely seen any legal decision that has satisfied everyone.

We are obligated to live and love like Christ. We live in a really messed up and broken world. We need to keep loving those around us regardless of how messed up they are; that is what Christ has done for us. We need to keep realizing that “madness” is the mindset of humanity when we measure that to their attitude toward God Himself. He calls us to keep befriending, learning, and moving alongside of people in their journey because they need the hope of the gospel.

Of course, this does not answer a whole mess of additional questions, but it is an important starting point. If we do not start here with the essential problem of humanity, we will never keep our bearings as to how to “fix” the problem. You will hear appeals at all kinds of levels (from gun control to immigration issues to politics etc.) to stop this “madness” but it may be another form of “madness” to think we can fix this. The core problem is not that whenever you have sinful humans, you will have moral evil; evil does have a way of dripping out on others. That is why God has us here on earth.


In His grace,

Pastor Brad