Responsible Citizens

The Las Vegas Shooter

Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured almost 500 last Sunday night after his shooting rampage from the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino overlooking the Route 91 Harvest Festival. So far, no motive has been established. But a few preliminary facts have been reported about the shooter:

  1. He had no religious affiliation or core religious beliefs,
  2. He had no political affiliation or core political beliefs,
  3. He had few, if any, long lasting interpersonal relationships, and
  4. His favorite activity was gambling.

As I’ve read the news about this shooter, it seems to me that he subscribed to the belief that all of life is based on chance. It might be that in the coming weeks we’ll learn that he did possess a belief system that motivated him. But thus far, based on the reports I’ve read, he didn’t believe anything that would have constrained him from shooting people at the festival. It appears that to him shooting people was no different than shooting fish in a barrel, birds in the sky, or animals in the woods just for sport.

Atrocities happen, but at least we can make some sense of these atrocities when they are motivated by political or religious ideologies (however misguided), or because of a mental illness. To have someone reduce all of life to chance, making it no more than a series of random, meaningless events, and viewing people as no more meaningful than ants in a field, is alarming to all of us.

In recent blogs I’ve been describing what the writer of Hebrews lists as six basic experiences we must have with Christ that are fundamental to God’s perfect plan for our lives (Hebrews 6:1-2). I think these six experiences create foundations in our lives that allow us to become healthy participants in society. These experiences are described for us in the Scriptures to ground us, and when embraced by society, ground an entire culture. These ideas establish us, causing us to be firm and unwavering, and give us a solid footing upon which we can build our whole lives. They also cause us to value our lives and respect others’ lives, which promotes safety among all of us.

They are:

  1. Repenting from evil deeds,
  2. Placing our faith in God,
  3. Believing the doctrine of baptisms,
  4. Practicing the laying on of hands,
  5. Understanding the resurrection of the dead, and
  6. Acknowledging eternal judgment.

Each of these encounters with Christ transforms us, relieves us of impulsive living, and brings stability and goodness into our lives. And they build a world-view that empowers us to serve others. These ideas elevate humanity, cause us to value life, and result in us bringing goodness into the world instead of terror.

Our world would be very different today if Stephen Paddock would have repented of his evil deeds just two weeks ago. Think of it. If he had placed his faith in God, gone to a local church and been water baptized, and had the church leaders lay hands on him imparting God’s blessing and life, he would have never been in the news and many of those now in coffins would be alive.

If two weeks ago, Stephen Paddock would have been convinced that there is resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment, he would have become one more baby Christian, a new creation, a brand new man, maybe even attended a men’s Bible study instead of gambling. And, when he would have died, which probably would have been years in the future, he would have experienced the reality of his redemption instead of an eternal sentence of punishment and suffering.

These six foundational experiences and beliefs are key to building a good life. We don’t become instantaneously perfect, but instead we become increasingly like Christ, full of his goodness and life. We are changed for the better, our lives are not given to chance, but become purposeful, and we are able to produce good and not evil in our world.

Let’s all go to church Sunday morning and invest something good in our lives.

By tedhaggardblog

Ted Haggard is the Sr. Pastor of St. James Church in Colorado Springs, CO and founding pastor of New Life Church and past president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He is the husband of Gayle, and the father of Christy, Marcus, Jonathan, Alex and Elliott.

6 replies on “The Las Vegas Shooter”

I have to again ask, where was Jesus? After Sandyhook I had to wonder how /why Jesus would let 20 first graders get shot to death in their classroom. Was that gods will? I remember singing “Jesus loves the little children” in Sunday school. Now several masacures later, I find myself asking that question yet again. Why would He allow this to happen?

In Heaven, God’s will is fully expressed, so there is no suffering at all. But here on the earth, we had other influences like human volition, bad ideas, natural law, Satanic and demonic activity, etc. this is why we pray, “Thy Kingdom Come.” It is not fully here. Thus our need to influence for good, promote ideas that help people be better off, and teach the Word to defeat evil in ourselves and others. Thus, the importance of your role. Where was Jesus? In you and me. We did not reach that guy.

Thank you pastor Ted! This I know, it’s the victims of this evil that causes my questions. Why must they suffer? Why is so much prayer needed after the fact. Few events on this earth (to me anyway) show the division between good and evil like these senseless mass shootings do. I have trouble getting past the why question when yet another one happens.
Thank you Ted!

I agree Pastor Ted, having an understanding of the scriptures as you describe will keep our journey through this life on track and our relationship with our Lord and others moving forward as we look for Jesus’ return-Hallejujah!

This tragic event brings to mind the adage, “Whatever we feed will grow.” The shooters life illustrates that point. He was addicted to self-serving activities. His view appears to be predominately inward and concerned only for himself. Therefore, the hateful, destructive, angry personality he possessed ate him out from within, and eventually he destroyed himself … from the barrel of his own gun.

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