Whether it’s a preacher’s wife shooting her husband in the back or a student venting his rage by killing 32 people on the campus of Virgina Tech, the root problem is spiritual.
Police, investigators, juries, and reporters seek to answer questions, explore motives, see justice done. Legal, psychological, and social aspects can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.
But the determining factor is still spiritual.
What do I mean when I say that the root problem is spiritual?
I mean hearts have either excluded God altogether or have allowed passions or desires to weaken the commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
Mary Winkler decided to pull a trigger. But a whole series of decisions previous to that mortal day carried her to that point. Temptations, of whatever nature, won, and a heart known for its loyalty to God gave way to Satan’s sway.
Her husband’s behavior is immaterial. Though it may have bearing on other aspects of the case, the spiritual side is unaffected by what others do or fail to do. For the disciple of Jesus doesn’t react, but acts according the character of his Master.
Seung-Hui Cho decided to fire wildly and kill students and teachers. But that decision was preceded by others that led him, apparently, to feed resentment, envy, or other sins of the heart and plan America’s worst mass murder on a college campus.
Two truths branch off from these events.
First, my own heart. We tend to make a distinction between small and large decisions. But even in the small areas, choices can lead us to more weighty moments and consequential results. So I must be heartless in protecting my heart against the devil’s encroachments and zealous to nuture the will of God in my life.
Second, the hearts of others. Much of the discussion now taking place focuses on how to prevent such things from happening. While these discussions have merit, again, if the root problem is spiritual, the true solution is also spiritual.
Which brings us to a watershed: While we are in the world, these things will always happen, for people will choose not to obey God and will forge their futures through their own self-will and personal interest.
Some can be reached. Others will reject the grace of God. And since I can’t forecast who will accept salvation and who will reject the offer of eternal life, I must speak to all.
Winkler and Cho do not call Christians to social or political action. They call us to rouse ourselves spiritually, to repent of secret sins, to root out those dark spaces in our hearts before they shadow the light of God’s Spirit within us.
They call us to proclaim the Creator of the universe as our best friend, who desires daily walks and offers meaning, love, purpose, strength, and peace; to show that the life of Christ still walks the streets of our world; to give our lives for our students, our families, our neighbors; to remember, ourselves, and remind others that the final solution is eternal, heavenly, holy, and purely good.
They call us to remember that, if the root problem is spiritual, the solution is real, near at hand, and ready to be put into practice.
“Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
The basic problem of society is spiritual, and its solution is also spiritual.