In the gift of civil government God intends to keep society safe through laws society pass to care for itself. When laws are broken society suffers. When lawlessness is allowed, we suffer. God calls us to judge violations, create civil laws, and enforce them by pain. If possible, society needs to correct causes of violence in different ways. The cause of this latest slaughter? Failures in parenting, peer abuse, emotional/spiritual illness, the availability of guns, violence in media and promoted by leaders, a mute church, economy … the list goes on. Some suggest genetics can create patterns of behavioral choice.
 
It is hard to understand, but when the norms of morality are ignored or moved toward more libertine, violent, or base standards - the culture grows people differently; we grow different. Cultures can decline or, like cancer in a body, grow in self-destructive ways unaware of the dangers.
 
For centuries the Christian church has taught that the troubles of a society are genetic - the sin gene. God doesn't make junk, but there is in every human being a depravity hell bent on self-centered, self-serving ways. Some call it original sin. How the soul contracts this evil is a mystery but God clearly reveals the trouble in passages like Genesis 6:5 and Mark 7:21-23. Jesus also tells us that some of His followers will die for their faith in Him who forgives and love them. The dead in Oregon gave witness.
 
The darkness of sin, wickedness, and evil are popular subjects in our culture of movies, songs, and TV, but in their raw forms like this, it just hurts. Our culture proclaims "We're basically good deep down inside.", but this is a lie revealed by the Oregon shootings. Those who believe in Jesus and confess the depths of their own sinful thoughts, words, and actions understand that when such impulses are not given to Jesus and when self-destructive ways aren't resisted, evil breaks loose.
 
The evil of this latest tragedy needs to be pondered. How our civil society is shaped by our culture and those who lead it need evaluation. Failing to consider these will insure our society’s tip into greater civil tragedy and human pain. Will politicians, parents, teachers, entertainers, and pastors roll up their sleeves to row our nation to better destinations?  Pray they do!
 
Long ago there was a far greater tragedy followed years later by a trial of far-reaching significance. The tragedy in the Garden of Eden has cascading effects on my life and yours, but so does the trial. I should have been the one bound and handed over ... so should have you. In the scrutiny of God's Law that beholds everything, we are guilty and worthy of death and the fires of hell forever, but for the trial. The trial! In God's heavenly courtroom His only Son took the punishment and paid the debt that we owe almighty God. Now, for Jesus’ sake, God looks upon us in grace and mercy. For us and all who believe in the Message of the Cross, we are being saved from our sin, wickedness, and transgression. Those struggling in fear, guilt, anger, blame, and shame need to hear this Good News.
 
No one gets away with anything in God's court of justice. While the world burns in violence, the Day of reckoning will come when all will stand before the judgment seat of God. Until then believers’ hearts and minds will be governed by the Holy Spirit to do the right things and the blessed things in thought, word, and action. God’s mission will continue where Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gathers and feeds the broken with His Word of forgiveness and instruction, even giving His body and blood to assure that our evil debt has been paid and our death sentence repealed by His blood shed at the hands of sinners.


Peace and love in Jesus,
Pastor Stace
John 3:16,17