Today, I’ve watched the news in shock and horror as footage is shown of a senseless massacre at a midnight screening of the new Batman Movie (The Dark Knight Rises). At least 12 people are dead, dozens more are wounded, and tens of millions are responding with a mixture of prayer, rage, confusion and disbelief.
As I watch public figures give their public statements regarding the fate of the young man who carried out this malicious attack, one phrase keeps coming up…”He must be swiftly brought to justice!”
I’ve been thinking about “Justice” and I’ve been pondering what a Christian’s response should be to senseless crimes such as these.
My mind raced back to a similar story from the past. There was a highly-educated young man who decided to become a terrorist. He carried out deadly attacks against Christians. However warped his motives might have been, he believed he was justified. He was feared by all until the day that he encountered Jesus and everything changed.
I’m talking about Saul whose named was changed to Paul. The Apostle Paul went on to be a great defender of the Christian Faith that he had previously tried to destroy. He wrote much of the New Testament and lived the rest of his days more passionate about helping people than he had ever been about hurting them. He discovered and lived out the reality of God’s Amazing Grace.
So which is it? Should we pray for Justice or for Grace? I believe we should pray for Both.
As it relates to the today’s tragedy, I do believe that this misguided young man should be severely punished. He should never again experience “freedom” from a worldly point of view. I hope the families of the victims find some measure of closure by watching him be convicted and sentenced for his terrible crime.
I pray that he is indeed swiftly brought to Justice, but as a Believer in the Life-Changing transformation that Jesus can bring to Sinners like him (and me) I also pray that he is swiftly brought to Grace!
I pray that in his concrete cell, he finds forgiveness and hope and spends the rest of his days on earth proclaiming the hope that he has found. No sin is so great that the Blood of Jesus can’t pay the price for it. No one is beyond the reach of His nail-scarred hand.
Please pray for the families who grieve and pray for the criminal who caused the grief. May they all find hope and healing through the only One who can truly give it. God is bigger than our biggest pains, and He can bring good from even the worst of tragedies.