From the opening scenes of the Bible (Genesis 4:8) we see murder.
In fact we see violence, destruction and betrayal on almost every page of the Bible.
Human beings, created to, and even commanded to, live in peace in (and with) the garden, instead pursue destruction, pride and greed and live lives full of fear, shame and guilt.
I occasionally hear people say that they wished they lived in Bible times; in this sense, many of us do.
Doesn’t it seem as if most of us live in a constant, determined avoidance of what we all know God has called us to?
How many of us are content in ‘the garden’ where we have been placed?
How many of us are entranced by the (sometimes vicarious) power and fantasy of our blood-drenched hands?
We live in a culture that longs to kill and live by death.
We measure strength, power and courage by pain and death inflicted. Body counts have become a part of our daily vocabulary.
We are, or at least many of us are, proud of our individual – and cultural – ability to kill, threaten, wound and destroy.
We seem driven by death and even find our identity in it.
You’d think we were designed, if not commanded, to kill in the name of our highest god, our highest calling.
We become numb and impulsive, and have learned to live under the assumption that others are as callow and cruel as we have become.
But if there is anything that should NOT come easily and naturally to us, it is killing.
Killing a brother or even killing of animals does not come easy. We forget, or are never told, that according to the Biblical account, we all, including animals, were vegetarian (if not vegan) until the Great Flood (Genesis 2:15 and Genesis 3:17).
In fact we are told in Genesis that the Flood came precisely in response to the violence of humanity (Genesis 6:11-22).
But we, even those of us who take the Bible seriously, continue to live in a blood-drenched daze of distraction and entertainment.
And perhaps the greatest irony of all is that we imagine that God puts his stamp of approval on our murderous illusions.
When, even in this murderous season, have you heard a sermon on Psalms 11:5:
The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.
And we are shocked, shocked, when an act of violence strikes close to our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods. And yet it must.
And it will if it hasn’t.
What have we become when murder has become routine?
I had a student not long ago who wore a shirt that said “What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do you not understand?”
I grew up with guns – and their safe, responsible and intended use. Guns are designed to kill. They, unlike any other ‘tool’ need to be ‘well-regulated’ (Second Amendment of the US Constitution) and handled, purchased and used responsibly.
Endlessly repeated headlines proclaiming the latest shooting will not change our hearts.
But perhaps one day, our hearts will change the headlines.