Pray for Vegas: A Response to the Vegas Shooting
I’m getting ready for a barrage of internet comments claiming that Sin City got what it deserved. We heard it when New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We hear it all the time. And now we’re going to hear it again. ‘Sin begets sin,’ and so forth.
But, is that really what is going on? Is God really punishing Vegas using this man’s depravity? Or is there something greater, more sinister at work?
I think most people—religious and irreligious—would affirm the latter. Christians, Jews, Muslims and other groups call it sin. Sometimes we call it the sinful nature. Many irreligious would call it the human condition. At any rate, most people know that there is something in the heart of every human being that disposes them inevitably to hurtful, selfish behavior and sometimes to outright erratic, hateful behavior like occurred in Las Vegas yesterday at the Route 91 Concert.
Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7.21-22).
There’s something sinister in the heart of every human being. Call it original sin. Call it the sinful nature. Call it the human condition. Call it a genetic defense mechanism or a primitive evolutionary development that is yet to work itself out of modern humans. Call it whatever you want, but it’s there.
So, is that what happened? Was the shooting just the byproduct of one man’s (or two) bruised, battered, and hateful heart?
But, I think there’s a greater force at work.
The broken nature of any individual person does not explain the depth of any single person’s depravity. And it certainly doesn’t explain natural disasters. Rather, I believe, great tragedies of all kinds are the byproduct of the collective evil of human’s hearts. The Apostle Paul, an early Christian teacher who wrote much of the New Testament (the latter portion of the Bible), said that the entire universe groans under the duress of humanity’s sinful condition, awaiting a time of recreation when it will be freed from bondage to the wickedness of humanity.
I realize that sounds almost like a sci-fi film, where an elitist race is trying to wipe the vermin humans from existence. Or it could be a post-apocalyptic renewal story where only a few ‘good’ humans survive to replant humanity on the earth. I would posit that the mere existence of countless stories that follow these themes points to the harsh reality that each and every human being in existence is well aware of their own sick hearts and need for restoration.
But, again, it does no good for the planet that any one person is rescued. What good does it do if I am restored if others will still practice their depravity in public like the Route 91 shooting? Is there no future hope for humanity as a whole? Is there no hope for the universe?
I believe there is. When Jesus said, ‘Behold I am making all things new’ (Revelation 21.5), he didn’t mean ‘some things.’ There is a future hope for a new humanity living on a new earth in a new universe. There’s hope for a world free from hurricanes and mass shootings. There’s hope for a world where the word ‘war’ need not even exist.
But, what’s needed in times like this? What’s needed when humans cause such great tragedy?
Well, we don’t need arrogant, self-righteous claims about Las Vegas getting what they deserved.
We need new hearts, humble hearts. We need to acknowledge that we’re all a part of the brokenness of this existence.
And we all need a future hope. We need a hope for the ‘new things’ that Jesus promised. If we want to be new people, we need a new earth and a new king. And that king is Jesus. Future hope comes when we stop living for this world and start living for the world that Jesus has promised. When you have a new king–Jesus, then behold, you will see he is making you new and you will see he is making all things new.
For now, regardless of your view on prayer, let’s pray for Vegas, for the families who have suffered loss, and for those who are injured. Let’s pray for healing, redemption, and restoration.