I may return to the idea of Internet-based narcissism, but for today I want to write something about the Virginia Tech tragedy.
There is a great deal for a Christian to sift through in the wake of a happening like this. My primary thought is this: we who are saved and healed by Christ need to reach out to those who are unsaved and sick. It’s a simple thought, I know, but it’s a life-saving one, if we will translate thought into action.
Our action cannot ultimately prevent evil. Cho Seung-Hui is not a victim. He acted out of a sinful heart, and gave voice through his deeds to the evil that lurked within him, and that lurks within all of us. He is right now facing horrific judgment the likes of which you and I cannot imagine. I make no apology on his behalf. He was, like we all are, a monster. It’s just that some of us are stronger monsters than others.
To some degree, though, the action of monsters is determined by their peers. Many youth avoid disturbed people, and even mock them. If you are like me, you can quickly see that there is a very good chance that if this young man was in your classroom, and was your fellow student, you would have followed your classmates. Sure, if you’re a Christian, you would have felt pity for him. But if you’re like me, and you are weak and lazy and focused on much that does not matter, there is a good chance that you would not have acted on that pity. There is a good chance that you, and I, those who possess the only means of hope and healing in this forsaken world, would have cared more for our grades or our hair or next class or our next meal or our upcoming date. There is a good chance that we would have made such behavior a pattern in our lives, and so day after day, we would have passed up an opportunity to reach out to an extremely lonely, angry, troubled, sinful young man. The gospel would have stayed silent, and the storm would have kept raging. Unseen.
In a time of great sorrow, then, let us not let this lesson go unlearned. Let us reach out to the lost people around us, not for number’s sake, not so we can drive up baptisms, not so we can tell everyone we shared the gospel, but so that light–even a glimmer–will reach into the blackest darkness. Cho Seung-Hui is dead, but there are countless others like him, troubled, hurting, violently angry, disturbed. You and I may not see it, but darkness is out there, in the hearts of men, simmering, desperate, destructive. The good news is that the gospel is here as well, and it is the power of God unto salvation. It banishes the blackness, heals the hurting, saves the sinful. It is marvelously powerful, but it must be shared to be so.
Fellow believers, remember the story of Cho Seung-Hui. Remember him. In one sense, you will never see him. He is dead. But in another sense, you will surely see him. He will have a different face, a different look, and a different mask, but his distress is in most everyone around you. You will not see it, but it will be there. Reach out, brothers and sisters. Speak out. Share the gospel. Proclaim the truth. Minister to the sick. Love the unloved.
Banish the storm.