Mark G. Schroeder
In February, our nation endured the trauma of yet another mass shooting. By the time you are reading this, it would not be surprising if another similar terrible incident has taken place in a different school or public place.
When these terrible tragedies occur, the questions immediately come. What could have been done to prevent this? What can be done to prevent similar atrocities in the future?
The public debate invariably centers on two solutions. One suggests tighter regulations and laws on the sale and possession of guns. The other argues that the solution to the problem is increased efforts to provide security in schools and other public venues, to better enforce the laws already on the books, and to give more attention to mental health diagnosis and treatment.
But none of these solutions provide an answer. That’s because they don’t address the real problem. These solutions attempt to treat the symptoms of a deeper problem rather than providing the cure for the disease.
We know what the root cause is. From the time of the world’s first murder, when Cain took the life of his brother Abel, the cause of such behavior is the sinful and wicked human heart that neither knows God nor desires to serve him. It’s sin in the human heart that separates a person from God and is the fountain from which flow the evil and wicked deeds that plague our fallen world. It is sin that moves a person to devalue and disregard the life of everyone—from the child in the womb to the elderly in a nursing home. It is the sin-darkened heart that contemplates and causes harm to others—from hurtful words to deadly shootings. It is sin that has shown itself throughout history in man’s inhumanity to man.
So, the solution to the problem of gun violence and mass shootings is not really to be found in political arguments or governmental actions. If the root cause of this problem is sin—and it is—then the only solution is to be found in the cure and remedy for sin: the saving and transforming gospel of Christ.
Sad to say, the pure gospel of forgiveness and salvation in Christ is all too often not seen as the solution we so desperately need. Even Christian churches today have set aside the one true remedy and have focused their attention on the symptoms. Like Martha, they have forgotten the one thing that is needed (cf. Luke 10:38-42) and instead replaced it with misguided efforts to fight for social justice and to root out poverty and oppression. When the church abandons its mission to preach the gospel, sin-darkened hearts are not changed, life continues to be devalued, and love for others is replaced by self-interest, self-promotion, and every kind of evil
I am thankful to belong to a Christian church that, by the grace of God, is committed to a mission that says, “We preach Christ crucified!” God has graciously preserved his saving truth among us, and in doing that he has given us the only effective remedy against the corruption within each of us. It’s the gospel that motivates us to do God’s will, not our own. It’s the good news that alone changes the heart of the young adult who feels marginalized and alone. It’s the message of Christ that leads people to turn from sinful desires and to follow him.
The gospel alone is the cure. By grace, we have that gospel. With God’s help, we proclaim it and teach it as faithfully as we can—not to change society, but to watch its power change hearts and lives.
Mark Schroeder is president of WELS.
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Author: Mark G. Schroeder
Volume 105, Number 5
Issue: May 2018
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