The psychologist on one of the cable networks said it best perhaps: “we have now crossed a red line” in terms of evil. For as shocking as the senseless shootings in colleges and high schools and even shopping malls have been in the past, the violence which took place in a Connecticut elementary school today pushed us well beyond the unthinkable when it comes to just how reprehensible human behavior can actually be.
Oh, there will no doubt be all manner of explanations offered in the days ahead. Some will point to the problem of guns in this country and argue quite logically that if we only had stronger laws restricting their purchase that such inexplicable acts of mayhem couldn’t happen. Others will suggest, also with some good reason, that we as a society have systematically desensitized ourselves to the very notion of killing others, thanks in part to television, films and violent video and computer games. Still others will tell us that in underfunding mental health programs we have all but asked for such horrific incidents to occur, for if we don’t heed an individual’s cry for help in one place, they will simply yell it–and live it–out louder in another.
Yet in the end, it is not simply sociopathic behavior alone that can explain the problem– it is the omnipresent if often overlooked reality of sin in this world. For the truth is that when someone gives into sin, eventually they may lose all of their restraining influences, and so for them there are no “red lines” to cross anymore. Indeed, the red line of reprehension was actually crossed centuries ago east of Eden and in some ways we have never looked back. Even innocent children, in fact, can become collateral damage, as was the case not just in Connecticut today, but in Bethlehem two thousand years ago when by the command of a maniacal monarch, every boy under the age of two was slaughtered lest they one day grow up to be a threat to him.
Already it has been said, of course, that the tragedy in New Town is amplified (as if such were even possible for those parents) because of the timing of this attack, just eleven days before Christmas. But in truth, there is no more vivid illustration of why the coming of Christ was needed in this world. For God sent His Son into this world not to give us a “holly, jolly” holiday but to redeem the world from its awful brokenness. Christmas was never intended to be reduced to just a seasonal celebration, thus, for at its core, it was nothing less than a rescue mission.
The days ahead will be excruciating ones for the families of those children and others who were killed in Connecticut. They will need our prayers and love. But the sadness that has now punctuated this season is but one more reminder of the reason why we needed a Redeemer long ago, and still do. With those of every age, now is the time for people of faith to simply pray once more: “Even so, Lord, quickly come.”