What You Believe Matters
Today I was one of probably thousands who viewed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter’s video that was released by the Broward County State Attorney’s Office to the media. I refuse to mention the shooter’s name because I don't want to contribute to the notoriety he so coveted. However, in order to seek to understand what’s behind these offenders I think it important to take a moment to listen.
Buried in the midst of his false bravado and chilled casualness about killing people he said, “I am nothing, I am no one. My life is nothing and meaningless. Everything I hold dear I’ve let go beyond your half. Every day I see the world ending another day. I live a long life. I live in seclusion and solitude. I hate everyone and everything.”
I am no psychologist and do not pretend to be one, but I in see these words a deeply scarred spirit. For a young man who has lost his parents, believes himself to be alone and was probably socially inept due to insecurities and fears related to his loneliness, we see a reasonable woundedness that becomes adulterated with youthful rage, despair and loneliness. This doesn't justify his anger and definitely doesn't even remotely rationalizes his actions but it does reveal to us an insight into a perspective of life that is much more prevalent today than in the past.
What do I mean? We live in a society that celebrates virtual community but actually moves people towards isolation. More and more people are choosing to isolate themselves from social gatherings and are choosing to become more reclusive in their daily activities. They shop online, order out more than ever before and stay home, they entertain themselves with media and engage socially more virtually than in face-to-face activities. In their solitude they become less tolerant and more exclusive. In their solitude they preserve their privacy but interpret lack of connection with others as rejection.
From a Christian spiritual perspective, more and more are shaping an outlook to life that fails to accommodate any semblance of God. In these modern times many see God at best as a distant being and at worst as a cruel and narcissistic being. We’ve somehow taken on a perception rooted in Greek mythology where we see ourselves as the plaything of the gods thus lacking any real meaning, value or investment to the gods. We seem to perceive that we are as a meaningful to God as a Sims character is to us in a game. This promotes a notion of irrelevance and artificiality.
In the midst of all these modern ideas and venues for dealing with our reality we’ve lost our concept of God. As a Christian and a pastor this means that we’ve lost our sense of self worth and intentionality in this creation. We’ve become invisible and irrelevant to ourselves convinced that we are but a passing flash in time.
Yet the beauty of Christianity screams of a message that is totally different and this generation needs to hear it. We may be here but for a flash in time when we compare our life to eternity but we are far from being irrelevant or insignificant. Our significance is highlighted by the fact that God deems us so worthy, valuable and significant that in His domain of eternity He subjected Himself to a temporal finiteness in order to convey the message of his love for us in words and deeds we can understand. He sacrificed us to allow us to come closer to Him. We are deemed valuable because God deems us worthy enough to save and make room for us with Him in eternity.
If we live for life in the moment and simply for self satisfaction the author of Ecclesiastes 1:2 tells us, “vanity of vanity, its all vanity.” In other words, yes its meaningless. We accomplish nothing for we cant take anything with us and if we live to indulge ourselves it doesn't matter if you have all the attention, money or power it dies with you. However, if we live our lives like a “living sacrifice” where we allow our desires to die and use our lives for God’s love to be represented we will then be dedicated to loving others. This is evident in the way we invest in one another, in the way we dedicate ourselves to uplifting one another, in the way we seek to edify each other, and in turn we build relationships, institutions, families, movements that reflect the love of God for humanity and thus our good deeds that lift others up will outlive us in perpetuity. In turn, a life well lived for God that cares for others has the reward of eternity with God.
A life rooted in the religion of secular humanism that believes we are an accident and but an insignificant flash of light in the cosmic expanse of eternity produces insignificance, despair and in immature young men it fuels rage.
A life rooted in sacrifice, honor and love that begins with understanding that we have inalienable rights because we are created by God to serve and care for each other in turn produces a heart with compassion, hope and fuels young hearts with a desire to do more for others.
So in the end, it really matters deeply what you believe. For what you believe in determines what you live for and how well you live it.