Most news outlets will have announced last week’s tragedy in Virginia: reporter Alison Parker, 24, and camera man Adam Ward, 27, were killed by gunman Vester Flanagan. They had been presenting a local tourism story at an outdoor mall.
Page A14 of the August 27 edition of The Grand Rapids Press, which reported on local murders, contained the stories of three more violent deaths. Would the readers feel the pain of these four tragedies? Violence is so widespread, the killings so many. Sometimes the scheduled newscasts consist of nothing but sad and bad news. Perhaps that’s what we now have come to expect.
Throughout history, life has been the stage of violence: cruelty, destruction and death. It was at the dawn of history that Cain committed the world’s first murder. How could he hate his good and honorable brother Abel so bitterly that he grabbed the brutal cudgel and killed him? Genesis tells us, “… the ground opened its mouth to receive his brother’s blood.”
Following the first martyr’s death, the individual victims of violence grew into the countless multitudes of those who suffered and were denied life.
All across the nation, mothers and women unite and march in protest to widespread violence. Schools are devising elaborate safety systems for their charges. Governments at all levels work hard at maintaining a form of basic protection, security and decency. Safety, we say, is everybody’s responsibility. As Christians we laud those efforts. We are part of society. Our children, too, leave home in the morning, cross streets, and enter public buildings. We expect effective provisions toward safety to be in place. We thank God for whatever measure of safety comes our way. We remember the many law officers who have given their lives for us to have safety.
But we also know that violence comes from deep and stubborn sources. The Bible tells of sin. We experience sin, lives estranged from God. But the Bible also tells of redemption in Christ. It tells of people loving each other, serving each other, showing kindness and concern to each other. We thank God for the presence of Christianity in the world. We have to do some serious thinking: in what way does our Christian profession motivate us to be the bearers of life, goodness, protection and wellbeing?
From afar Isaiah saw our Savior Christ lead the way:
“He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.” (50:7)