We are in the middle of debate about what to do about school violence. The killings of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida have shaken us to the core and sparked a national argument. Some argue we should enact more gun laws. Others attribute this bloody violence to mental illness and the need for more and better health care.
More perverse is the attitude of several mass shooters in recent years that they seek fame and are narcissists. It is a "fame at any cost" mentality, some say. That narrows the line between being famous and being infamous. Violence begets violence. There is no argument that America is a violent culture full of angry, mentally ill, politically divided people.
This kind of violence is insane. Crazy. Irrational.
Which leads us to consider this...
Is there something else?
Something elementally evil that inspires irrational, crazy, insane violence.
We have an unseen enemy who is wracking our culture with fear, violence, hate, and finally death. It is irrational. Crazy. It is causing us to become unhinged.
The Bible speaks of this evil in a personal way. Evil is a person. He has an identity and he does his most damaging work in the darkness, where he can connive and destroy without anyone crediting him with the damage he is doing. His name is Satan, the devil, the enemy. John the Revelator called him the great Dragon.
The Enemy engineered the fall of man and the suffering of the earth and its inhabitants. He wants to drive us to despair. He wants us to give up. He wants us to debate and argue and devour one another in our heated political debate. He loves it when we blame one another for what happened in Parkland.
Satan is the prince of the power of the air and is the spirit that works in those who are in rebellion to God's will. (Eph. 2:2) Our conflict is not with people. Our conflict is with ungodly ideas and arguments, with demonic forces beyond our human ability to resist. (Eph. 6:12)
So what do we as followers of Jesus Christ do in the face of such violence and the resultant heated bickering of who's to blame? Here are some ideas.
1) Unmask Satan every chance you get.
There may be as much evidence the devil exists as evidence for the existence of God. There is so much that begs for an explanation. Man's cruelty to fellow man is inexplicable without weighing the possibility that there is a power so diabolical that is bent on the destruction of the human race. Our battle is not with other people but with demonic forces. How is it that humans behave in ways that are more cruel than animals? There is something more here than mental illness. There is something that is evil.
2) Avoid fruitless arguments.
No child of God should be contentious. No debate about national policy is worth losing a friend. When the debate rages, spit in Satan's eye and refuse to participate. Violence has already torn families apart and for Satan it's a double-win. He has engineered a horrific loss of life. Then, he gets people to bite and devour one another in the arguing that follow.
Recently, I heard angry Americans say that they didn't want people praying about Parkland because they need more than prayers. Perhaps, that's true. We do need good policy. We do need good law enforcement. But then we're told to stop praying because that is insufficient. That message comes from the Enemy. He doesn't want us to pray because prayer is a powerful spiritual weapon to spread God's love and blessing. Persist in prayer regardless of what the world says.
4) Do not fear.
There is no greater power on earth than God's power. Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). There is no reason to despair or fear. The power of the Holy Spirit enables us to stand in the face of a furious spiritual battle taking place for the souls of humankind. When the storms rage, trust the One who calms the winds and waves.