Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
To be clear, mass shootings and other forms of evil violence are reprehensible. I look forward to the day when we will hear of them no more. However, we currently live in a fallen world. Just this week, Al Mohler discussed these events on his podcast, The Briefing, reminding us that “In a fallen world, we have to prepare for the need for heroism.”
Satan works to steal, kill and destroy. Evil exists among us. We must expect it, prepare for it and respond to it.
I have been greatly encouraged to see that in the two most recent school shootings, young men chose to confront evil head on without regard for their own lives. That’s hard to think about, hard to visualize and hard to consider.
But, I’m thankful that these young men responded by taking action against the evil, rather than hiding from it.
It’s not clear from either account that these men were followers of Jesus Christ, but they became examples of gospel living as they laid down their lives so that others might live.
21 year-old Riley Howell charged the gunman at the UNC Charlotte shooting on Tuesday, April 30. He was shot 3 times in the process but, “The chief said no one was shot after Riley body-slammed him,” said his mother, Natalie Henry Howell. A New York Times article notes… “She is angry that her son is dead, she said, but she cannot be upset that he took on the gunman. ‘That was just who he was,’ she said.”
On Tuesday, May 7th, two students began firing in a classroom at STEM School Highlands Ranch near Denver Colorado. According to an AP article… Classmates, Kendrick Castillo, Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones rushed one of the shooters, took him down and disarmed him. 8 other students had already been wounded. Castillo, who led the charge suffered a mortal gunshot and Jones was shot twice before Bialy was able to wrestle the gun away.
In fact, a New York Times article notes an increase in those taking a stand against gunmen, thwarting their plans and saving lives in the process. Specifically, these two incidents involve young men laying down their lives.
These events beg the question, “Would I do this in an active shooter situation? Would my child?”
Maybe we won’t be faced with such a dire circumstance, but we can take a stand in everyday life as we honor the sanctity of human life, diffuse bullying situations, and refuse to be passive when others are harmed.
We are not called to be bystanders.
FamilyLife published an article this week about bullying, and how we can disciple our children, to love God and love others in these situations. This begins at home, at a young age, and as The Briefing points out, has significance specifically for our boys.
Again, I’m not celebrating the fact that these horrible incidents happened. I am, however, celebrating the fact that some young men sprang to action. They were willing to give their lives so that others could live. In much the same way that Lori Gilbert Kaye put herself between her Rabbi and a gunman at a recent shooting in a California Synagogue. She died so that he might live.
These are indeed sad tales. But I’m thankful that the response to evil was confrontation rather than cowardice. I’m concerned that we have become a society of victims.
When evil, challenge or difficulty comes, too many often simply lay down.
John 15:13 says this… Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. In the three examples above two young men and one woman actually died physically so that others could live, physically. But the real message of John 15:13 is that we must die to ourselves in many ways so that others might live.
- Dad, do you need to lay down your golf clubs for a season so you can spend time with your son?
- Sir, should you lay down the remote control to spend time with you daughter? Perhaps to take her out for lunch and a shopping trip?
- Husband, would it be well for you to lay down your cell phone and have a conversation with your wife on an evening walk?
- Friend, do you need to put off a project at your own house to go and help a friend or serve a neighbor?
You don’t have to actually take a bullet. There are plenty of other ways to “die” so that others might live.
Jesus gave his life for us, and he bid us to come and die with him. The hardest part is to die to our own selfish desires.
Passivity is the bane of manhood.
Too often, we watch evil take ground rather than responding. Remember Edmund Burke’s quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
So, men here are some questions for you.
- When, where and how are you giving ground to Satan and evil because you refuse to act against it?
- What could you do?
- What should you do?
- What will you do?
Teaching Our Kids Not to Be Bystanders to Bullying by Jonathan McKee (FamilyLife)
Riley Howell’s Parents Say He Was Shot 3 Times While Tackling the U.N.C. Charlotte Gunman by Jim Dwyer and Myah Ward, NW Times
No Thought for Their Own Safety: Hero Students Disarm Colorado School Gunman by Kathleen Foody, P. Solomon Banda and Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press
The Briefing by Al Mohler, May 10, 2019, Second Segment