Families grieve in Aurora, CO in the aftermath of a shooting. A gunman dressed in full body armor and wearing a gas mask stormed into a packed movie theater at a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. He set off smoke bombs and then fired at the frightened patrons, killing 12 and wounding at least 50.
Who knows what snapped the man's mind and caused him to commit such horror. And I am sure people will wish the worst on him. I've already heard one person say, "I wouldn't care if a cop took him out and saved us the time and expense of a trial and imprisonment." Others have said, "At least in other shootings like this most of the killers had the decency yo shoot themselves."
Don't thoughts like that reduce us to the same low level of inhumanity? Is that justice or vengeance?
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims as much as anybody else. My thoughts and prayers are also with the family of the shooter, for what guilt and shame must they feel about this member of their family that caused so much pain and tragedy.
And my thoughts and prayers are with the gunman himself, that God will show him as much mercy and grace as He does to me, for I am just as much a sinner as he is. Sure, my sins are not as heinous and horrible as his, but they are sins all the same. In God's eyes a sinner is a sinner, no matter the sin.
As Paul writes in Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." All of us are sinners. All of us, whether our sins are "little" or "big" are in need of God's grace. None of us deserves our next breath but God, out of his amazing and unending grace, gives it to us.
So I pray for God's comforting presence to be with the families of the victims, that through the loving presence of God and others, and through counseling, they may find, over time, healing and peace. May they find it in their hearts, eventually, to respond as the Amish did after the Nickel Mines shooting, and forgive the man who shattered their lives.
I pray for the family of the shooter, that they may find the comfort and counsel they need to deal with this, and that they may realize that the blame others may ascribe to them is misplaced.
I pray for the gunman, that God will look on him with the same mercy and grace God gives me. Yes, he deserves punishment from us, but not vengeance. I pray some godly person will reach out to him to show him that God does not reject him but God still loves him and offers him grace through Jesus Christ.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. " (Romans 6:23)