I woke up this morning to the news of the mass murder in Las Vegas. As I write this, the death toll stands at more than 50, with some 500 others wounded.
Thanks to the advent of social media, by the time this column comes out in print, all of the predictable words will already have been said. Bodies were still warm when tweets started flying about gun control, the race of the shooter, political parties, ad nauseam.
It seems there are many people on every side of the spectrum who never pass up a chance to score political points or further an agenda when an opportunity presents itself. And it is that very thing, the chance to instantly speak to millions, that makes matters so very difficult to ever deal with in a sensible manner. Social media has made people slow to hear, quick to speak and quick to anger.
But the Bible lays out a diametrically opposite methodology for us. James 1:19 says, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."
And so, having had some time to take a few breaths, pray and think, please allow me to offer some thoughts that will not fit into a quick 140-character outburst.
Thought No. 1: Humanity has not changed much at all. We are thousands of years more technologically advanced, but inwardly we are still the same people as those that God described in Genesis 6:13 as having "filled the earth with violence." We like to fancy ourselves as "modern," but we are still the same sinners we have always been, only with much better weapons.
Thought No. 2: People speak of racial equality. In one area, we have thoroughly achieved it. Mass murders and sinners of every other type come in every skin color. A week ago, it was a black man shooting up a white church in Antioch, Tenn. The year before that, it was a white man shooting up a black church in Charleston, S.C.
Thought No. 3: Murder transcends religion, or the lack thereof. There have been crusaders and jihadists who have committed their crimes in the name of religion. There have also been atheistic states like the Soviet Union that slaughtered tens of millions in the name of their anti-God belief system.
It is my last thought, though, that I really want to drive home, and it is this: We have more power than we may realize to stop things like this before they happen. Mind you, there will be no way to put this in a test tube and measure it, since if it succeeds, we would be trying to evaluate something that never happened. But here is what I believe to be utterly, logically true.
Our everyday interactions with people from childhood on up can make a difference. Christians, everywhere we go, we need to be handing out gospel tracts, witnessing to people, winning them to the Christ who in love died for us.
We also must, every moment of every day, intentionally and openly act in Christian kindness. Stop to help people in need. Speak pleasantly to people getting on the elevator. Hold the door open for people and cheerily tell them to "come on in!" Pick up the tab for some random stranger behind you in the drive-through line.
Put shoes on a poor child's feet. Leave generous tips. Find the person awkwardly looking for a place to sit in the school lunchroom and invite them to the table with you and your friends.
Some years ago a teenage girl showed up at our church, and it was evident that she had nothing. Before a single week passed, I found out that some of our church girls befriended her and took her shopping. When she showed up the next week, it was with new clothes on her back and a smile on her face.
The love we show to others may turn a potential murderer into a police officer or Sunday school teacher. You may regard all of this as trite and oversimplistic. But if you do, I have one question for you: What do you have to lose?
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.