How Christians Should Respond To Mass Shootings And Violence?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The world is increasingly more violent, especially with all the mass shootings, so what peace can we find in Scripture with all the violence around us?

Vengeance is God’s

Passages like Romans 12:14-21 are helpful for us and children to read when mass shootings occur or they hear about mass violence. When we or our children read these passages, they and we can know that God is in charge and He will avenge. It is not up to us to change the world but to change ourselves. We cannot change people; we can only change how we react to people, so with this in mind, try to put your trust in God through His Word. The idea of not taking vengeance on others or our enemies is not strictly a New Testament idea. For example, in Leviticus 19:18 it says, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Further, the Old Testament stated, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly” (Deut 32:35), so ultimately, vengeance or justice is God’s, not ours, although we recognize that God has appointed those in law enforcement as His sovereign agents (Rom 13:1-5). The Christians in Rome had lost much due to their faith; their jobs, their homes, their families, and sometimes, their lives, but the Apostle Paul tells them (and us) how we are to respond to evil in this world: “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:17-19). He will repay, not us.

What Does The Bible Say About Death

Human Nature

It’s human nature to respond in kind. When we’re insulted, we tend to reply with insults; when shown anger, we respond with anger, but God has called us to “live peaceably with all,” and not to take matters into our own hands. King David knew that God would eventually bring justice, so he said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish” (1 Sam 26:10). Maybe this is why Solomon counseled us to “not say, “I will avenge this evil!” Wait on the LORD, and He will deliver you” (Prov 20:22), or to say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done” (Prov 24:29). To retaliate can only bring more violence and won’t solve anything. The Apostle Paul told Timothy how to handle such things, writing that “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (2 Tim 4:14). The author of Hebrews understood that God had said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people” (Heb 10:30). The Lord will judge; it’s not our job. The Lord said through Jeremiah, “Behold, I will plead your cause and take vengeance for you” (Jer 51:36a).

Good from Evil

How can we look at all the evil and violence in the world and rest in the fact that God is sovereign over it? We must understand that God controls everything; not a fly moves unless God first approves. He can use evil for good (Gen 50:20). One look at the evil done to Christ shows us just how much good can come from evil. He was slain by evil, wicked men, but this was part of the providential plan of God. By Jesus’ sinless life, suffering, death on the cross, and His resurrection, we are saved, so could only be saved because of the evil done to Jesus, however, this does not mean we are to use evil for good. Rather, “no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you” (1 Thess 4:6). The point of all these verses is that God will avenge. All we must do is pray for those that hate us and persecute us, and that God would grant them repentance and faith toward Christ. Even the Lord prayed in agony, on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Called to Peace

 

When the Roman and Jewish authorities came to arrest Jesus, Peter pulled out his sword, but “Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so” (Matt 26:52-54). If Peter or anyone else would have stopped the crucifixion, we’d all be without a Savior today. We should “not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways” (Prov 3:31), because we know that man of violence’s fate in the end. Isaiah the Prophet looked ahead to a time that we also look forward too. A time when “Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise” (Isaiah 60:18). Obviously, that day is not today. Jesus said that it used to be taught, “’An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:38-39). Believers have a higher calling to peace than the world does. We are called “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:2).

Conclusion

When you see another mass shooting, fall back on these Scriptures and rest in the fact that God will eventually bring justice. Make your children or grandchildren understand that God uses evil for good so they should not take justice into our own hands, but rest in the fact that they should “not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways” (Prov 3:31). Those ways lead to judgment, punishment, and death. Today, it is just like the days of Noah when “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Gen 6:11), but the last thing the Lord would have us do is to retaliate or respond in kind. No, we are called to love. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Here is some related reading for you: Can Good Come From Evil? A Biblical Discussion

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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