What the Gospel Has to Say about the California Christian College Shooting
My experiences taught me that the church is in a unique position to reach out to the immigrant community, to share God's love with the "sojourners" in our land. The church needs to understand that it's not enough to see only through the societal lens and say, "It was their society that was problematic." Neither is it enough to merely see through the individual lens and say, "It was their individual problems that needed attention." We must see through both lenses, held together by a gospel perspective, and say, "The problems in both the individual and society point to an underlying, universal norm in humanity." Because it doesn't really matter whether you're in an individually satisfying environment or a socially accepting one; the problem remains fixed and rooted in human nature. That is to say, in all of us. The only solution to this is the gospel, and the love it produces. The gospel gives the church reason to proactively put aside the "society vs. individual" debate (which is how the media is trying to portray most domestic issues) and reach out to the rejected and isolated with the gospel on the one hand and service on the other.
Why One Needs the Gospel
One Goh's community should have shown him the care a struggling immigrant needs, instead of isolating him for his poor English. But Goh also failed as an individual—in a fit of anger he unleashed his worst. One Goh is a perpetrator, but he is also a victim of other "perpetrators." Can we take from this what we must? Where there is a human being, there are bound to be problems. No one is exempt—liberal or conservative, religious or irreligious, immigrant or native, if you're breathing you're probably both the cause and the recipient of some form of human misery at some point in time. Why is this not more disturbing and urgent to us than everything else we see on the news combined?
The Bible, in this sense, is a book about what is urgent and fundamental. It is concerned with the most central problem mankind faces. The gospel comes to us with the premise that we've all missed the mark of perfection and gives the most basic human norm a three-letter name: sin. Humans are the cause of their own strife and conflicts; humanity is killing itself, and this has been our situation since the first sin in Genesis. The gospel demands a new order, a new kingdom, where people from every tribe and tongue will rejoice together and delight in a Savior who makes everyone new. It also provides one.
The Scriptures reveal Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the Savior King who came into our broken world to sympathize with us where we are, to bring a new order not with violent revolution but with radical love, which is demonstrated in his death and resurrection—all this for our liberation and renewal.
I believe One Goh needs a Savior in Jesus Christ, the true One who came to be rejected, ridiculed, and killed. He was an alien to his family, countrymen, and the world. He sympathizes with Goh, and came to die the death he should have died and live the life he should have lived, to make him new and to bring God's shalom on the earth—for One Goh and for us all.
If I see One L. Goh through this biblical lens, I cannot see him primarily as a disturbed Korean immigrant stuck in a broken system. He is primarily a broken man living among broken people who desperately need the gospel, people such as you and me.
Sungyak "John" Kim is currently studying for his M.A. in theological studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL. He writes at http://sungyak.tumblr.com.
"Speaking Out" is Christianity Today's guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the magazine.
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Previous articles on school shootings include:
Owning Redemptive Grief after the Ohio School Shooting | Instead of speculating on why T. J. Lane killed three of his classmates, we are better off asking how to grieve the tragedy rightly. (March 1, 2012)
Amish Grace and the Rest of Us | The Amish response to the Nickel Mines shootings wasn't just plain Christianity. (September 17, 2007)
Where Is God When It Hurts? | A sermon given on the Virginia Tech campus two weeks after the shootings. Philip Yancey (June 6, 2007)