Thoughts about the mall shooting

If you didn’t catch any news since yesterday afternoon, a guy who was depressed, on antidepressants, recently fired, recently dumped, and recently kicked out of his parents house went into a mall in Omaha, Nebraska and shot about 40 rounds with a Russion rifle before he took his own life.

You can read about it here.

In April, something similar happened on the campus of Virginia Tech, and I wrote the following over at


33 people killed. What really makes me chew on what happened at V.T. is that I wouldn’t be surprised if I know a half-dozen people who are two steps away from doing the same thing… and the only thing that stands between them and another tragedy is a false hope that they’ll get better.

Why is that a false hope? Because we don’t get better. Jesus doesn’t make us better. If that seems confusing, then let me clarify something:

Jesus did not come to make bad people good or good people better. Jesus came and died to make dead people alive (see Ephesians 2). And He rose again to live through us. We don’t get better… we just learn how to better let Jesus live through us, because our self — our flesh — is hopeless (see all of Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians)

What does this mean, then, for us? How should what happened in Blacksburg yesterday effect us?

I suggest two things:

1 – Let us recognize that we live in a reality where everything we do has an impact on eternity. C.S. Lewis said it very well:
“…remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day
be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be tempted to worship, or else a
horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.”
The guy who bags your groceries at Food Lion tonight might be one step away from giving up on himself and everyone else… or one step away from going down a path that will impact the world for the glory and fame of Jesus. Treat him like you believe that.

2 – Let us encourage one another – particularly brothers and sisters in Christ – correctly… and effectively.
It’s a subtle difference, but think about how our country — and the Church — would be different if, instead of encouraging each other with a focus on living a holy life and managing our sin (which only leads to hiding our sin)… imagine what it would be like if we put all our energy and passion into encouraging each other to simply focus on God’s greatness, and passionately seek to let Him live through us. Not hide our issues, but expose them and let them be an evidence of how God can use such foulness…
My friend Shannon has some good words about this over in his neck of the blog woods
I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes the most loving thing we could probably do for a brother is to humbly choose not to hide or disguise our shortcomings, but wear it openly as an evidence of how much junk God is transforming for His glory. Then, when we have all that extra energy that we didn’t waste trying to save a sinking ship of our flesh, we can use it to do what Jesus really called us to. As Tim Hughes puts it in his song ‘God of Justice‘,

We must go
Live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward
Keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go…

Any thoughts?

PS – After thinking this over for a few minutes, I think there is a third reaction that this should stir up. It should stir our hearts to cry, “Come soon Jesus!”.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! And while You tarry, keep us free from the sin of this world. Oh, make our little lives count for the glory of Your name and for the fame of Your Father. Rivet our attention on Your cross, and fuse our affections to Yourself. Waken our compassion for all who suffer, especially those who are rushing toward everlasting misery because of unbelief. So open our mouths and open our hands and open our wallets while we have breath, and make us the most radically loving people on earth, for the joy of all peoples and the renown of Your name, Amen. -Stolen from John Piper’s “Life as a Vapor”