The Las Vegas Shooting

From Rev. Solomon Keal, Assistant to the Pastor
October 10, 2017

Last week our country was shaken by the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. Naturally our collective thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this horrible crime. It might be a little harder to pray for the perpetrator. And it might even feel unthinkable to forgive the perpetrator. But as we begin the “Practicing Forgiveness” Journey series, that is one of the things we are being challenged to do. Forgiving a person like that does not mean condoning what they did. It does not mean that we should indiscriminately trust someone like that. It does not mean that we simply ignore or forget what they did. Their actions had horrible consequences that cannot and should not be ignored. However, forgiveness isn’t about releasing someone from the consequences they may face for their actions. It’s about releasing our own hearts from the clutches of the hells who want to pull us down into the desire to punish and condemn other people. It’s about opening our hearts to the Lord’s love and His desire to save every single human being.
I’m reminded of the Amish school shooting that happened eleven years ago in Lancaster. The perpetrator killed five young girls and injured five others, before dying by suicide himself. Amazingly the Amish community forgave him, and reached out to comfort his widow and family. Many people were critical of this act of forgiveness “arguing that forgiveness is inappropriate when no remorse has been expressed, and that such an attitude runs the risk of denying the existence of evil.” But the Amish explained that “the Amish willingness to forgo vengeance does not undo the tragedy or pardon the wrong, but rather constitutes a first step toward a future that is more hopeful.” The widow of the perpetrator wrote to the Amish community: “Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need.… Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Nickel_Mines_School_shooting)
I find myself wondering what Stephen Paddock (the Las Vegas shooter) is going through right now as he awakens into the spiritual world. I pray for the strength to forgive in the way the Amish did. Rather than hoping that the shooter goes to hell for his crimes, I want to hope that some really skilled angels can help free him from the clutches of the evil spirits that got him into the hell he expressed on that night in Las Vegas. “The mercy of the Lord is perpetual with every person, for the Lord wills to save everyone, whoever they are; but this mercy cannot flow in until evils have been removed, for evils and the derivative falsities stand opposed, and prevent it. But as soon as evils are removed, mercy flows in.” (AC 8307) “For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:35-37)


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