Colo. murders reflect nation’s questions about value of truth

LEBANON, Tenn. (BP)--The April 20 tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., drives people to search for answers, sometimes in all the wrong places, Gene Mims told worshipers in April 25 services at First Baptist Church, Lebanon, Tenn.

Twelve students and one teacher were killed when two students rampaged through the building with guns and bombs, before turning their weapons on themselves. The diary of one of the killers showed they had been planning their actions for a year.

Mims, president of LifeWay Church Resources, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, said he was struggling to resist the temptation to be too emotional about the tragedy.

"Too much focus on the topic brings too little on the God whom we worship today. Too much explanation of events and too much expression of the confusion we feel brings too little focus on the Word of God and the God of the Word where eventually we must get our answers," he said.

He acknowledged "anger and murder are not new to God. Since the slaughter of Abel by his brother, Cain, we have witnessed those who feel rejected and out of place."

In today's world, "our own national experience is a record of angry people taking the lives of others. Parents, girlfriends, schoolmates, co-workers, people of other races have all been the victims of this kind of violence," Mims said.

Despite the desperate desire that the carnage of Columbine never be repeated, he said people must face the "frightful realization that it will happen again."

While the obvious answer may be a return to the Bible, Mims said "most of us have never been in the Bible in the first place. We have become cultural Christians, taking more and more of our world into our lives and even into the practice of our churches. We have compromised with our enemies and complained against our friends until there seems to be no end to our confusion."

To come to grips with the reality of violence in today's world, Christians must first decide what they believe about truth, he said.

"Why is it wrong to kill another human being?" he asked.

"Is it wrong because we have a law against it? Is it wrong because there is an eternal standard which God has given? Is it wrong because that's the way we feel about it in our society today? Is it wrong because it has always been wrong in our nation?"

He noted the "the prevailing notion in the overwhelming majority of Americans is that there is no such thing as absolute truth."

However, "when people have conflicting views and there is no notion of finding the truth between them, then violence is the only answer left."

He cited the examples of political leaders "on the right and the left. When political opponents disagree, the option is not to talk, debate and decide, but to destroy the credibility of the other person.

"Either truth exists absolutely or it does not," Mims said. "Without truth there are no restraints except in the hands of those who have the greatest power."

To live God-honoring lives, he said Christians "must determine if the Bible and the truth we find there will be normative for our lives."

Next, he said, "we must adjust our behavior to meet the demands of the truth. If you know the truth there can ultimately be no separation from what you know and how you act."

To find meaning out of the Columbine tragedy, Mims said Christians must sharpen their sensitivities to what is taking place around them and then do something about what they see.

"People noticed these young killers were angry, alienated and destructive, but no one stopped long enough to help them change," he said. "When our lives are compromised from the truth, then other people are never quite in focus."

Of all the lessons, perhaps the most important is that people do matter, Mims said.

"They are created in the image of God and designed to live with him forever, whether they know it, appreciate it or believe it or not. They are not designed to live lives of lies, confusion and misery. It is not God's will nor should it be ours," he said.

People who have chosen truth will "always be viewed as intolerant, immovable, unkind and old-fashioned," Mims said. "It has always been like this, but it doesn't change what is true or what is real."

Finally, he said the Christians should be reminded from the deaths in Colorado "to understand our world as it really is. To know the tragedy of those outside of Christ who do not know and live the truth. To reach out to individuals around us who manifest the stress in living apart from Christ. To thank the Lord today for what he has done in our lives and to resolve in the power of the Holy Spirit to live as we can in him, no matter the cost."

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