Two years ago today, thirty-three people were killed on the Virginia Tech campus. I remember being glued to the TV set that morning. It was frightening and numbing to know that such violence occurred so close to where I live (for two more weeks, I live about 2.5 hours from the VT campus) I also wondered how sick, desperate, depraved, and broken someone had to be in order to inflict so much pain.
The scary thing is this: we’re all capable of what Seung-Hui Cho did. Sin is that powerful.
We can dissect the events and motives that day a thousand different ways, but it all boils down to this–sin. We live in a sin-sick world. We’re infected and affected by it. We may think that we would never do something so horrific as to take one human life much less dozens of lives. Yet, how many times have we wounded someone through gossip, slander, spreading rumors, or hatred? How many guys are wrecking their marriages through lust, porn, and adultery?
The good news is this: Christ Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us on the cross.
The tough news is this: we’re in a battle with sin every day. Our inner man has been renewed and regenerated, but we’re in a constant battle with the flesh (through which sin gets to us). We often try to manage it when Christ died to kill it–to put it to death and bury it. And it is when we think we’ve got control of our sin that we fall victim to it. And it causes pain–maybe not as graphic as the pain Seung-Hui Cho inflicted, but it causes pain nonetheless. It inflicts pain on us, on others, and most of all our sin pains God… pain felt in his back from a Roman flagellum, pain felt in his head from a crown of thorns, pain he felt in his wrists and feet from three spikes. But Jesus loved us enough to go through all that pain–physical, mental, spiritual, and relational… the pain of being separated from and suffering the wrath of His Father in our place. The cross and resurrection of Christ provide us with forgiveness and grace. The Holy Spirit regenerates, convicts, and empowers us to battle sin.
The choice is ours: will we fight the battle everyday? If not, who knows what kind of pain sin will produce in our lives?