God was not the shooter in Sutherland Springs. He was not the co-conspirator.
Why didn’t He do something? Why didn’t He intervene and save the lives at First Baptist Church?
God did intervene to save those precious lives. Thousands of years ago. He said:
“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13, NIV)
Several millennia later, Jesus Christ summed up the core command of God’s law:
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” (Matthew 37-40, NIV)
These verses are the ultimate gun control laws. They don’t regulate the manufacture and sale of firearms. They regulate the heart. Give a man or woman, who loves God with all their heart, soul, and mind and who also loves their neighbor, a full arsenal of weapons and their neighbors will be safe. People who truly love God and love their neighbor don’t kill. People who seek to please the God they love don’t walk into a church and fire bullets at innocent worshipers. People who truly love God are compassionate, merciful, kind, generous, and full of grace. They do not shed blood.
The Devin Patrick Kelleys of this world choose to disobey God’s call to love. They choose to act like they are god, giving themselves the right to determine another human being should die. They choose to doubt God will take care of, in His perfect timing, whatever grievances they may have in life. They take matters into their own hands. They worship the false gods of violence and infamy.
An entire community and a nation mourn today not because God failed to stop the shooter. We mourn because we witnessed another example of man’s rebellion from God and the carnage and destruction that rebellion leaves behind.
Why didn’t God stop Devin? Because you and I don’t want God intervening in our lives. When we want to do something, we don’t want anyone stopping us. When we don’t want to do something, we don’t want anyone forcing us to do it. We don’t want to be puppets, acting and speaking according to how God pulls the strings. We don’t want to lose our independence. If we cherish the freedom to be independent thinkers and actors, so also do the Devin Patrick Kelleys of this world. God understands this and He has given us free choice. We are free to obey Him or to disobey Him. Often our disobedience leads to other people’s heartache and grief, like the people of Sutherland Springs, TX are experiencing today.
In a community where 100% of the people have surrendered their lives to God, who are committed to obeying His call to love, there will not be any shootings. Our hearts will want to love, protect, defend, and cherish other people. The question is not “why did God allow this to happen?” The question is “when are we going to choose to obey God’s command to love?”
There will be justice. The deceased Devin Patrick Kelley, like all who have shed innocent blood, has already appeared in God’s court and his case has been processed. God has taken care of justice. Now, He works to help the people of Sutherland Springs, TX to heal and recover from the violence of Devin’s rebellion from God.
Father, forgive us for our rebellious hearts. Forgive us for not loving You with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Forgive us for not loving our neighbor. Help us to surrender our lives to You so that we can become more loving like Jesus Christ. Lead us now to a place of compassion, mercy, kindness, generosity, and grace for the victims and survivors of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX.