That question is being asked this week by wounded students at Virginia Tech. Relatives and friends of dead students. University faculty and staff. Law enforcement officers. Every news person with a microphone and camera is seeking someone on campus to ask how they feel and what they think, but most of all, why. Why did he do it?
Of course, other “why” questions follow that one. Why weren’t people warned sooner, why weren’t classes cancelled, why wasn’t the campus shut down. Why wasn’t the shooter stopped before he killed so many.
Jesus answered this question in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have to the full.” (NIV)
There is a thief, an enemy who hates people. He hates ALL human beings because God made them and loves them. Stealing, killing and destroying is his nature. He’s had lots of practice and he does those things very well.
The main thing he wants to steal is faith. If he can’t steal faith directly he will nullify it by stealing belongings, health, jobs or relationships, introducing fear and doubt into the situation. He will do whatever it takes to prevent faith from working.
If he can, he will kill people, and obviously many times he can. He will do it with sickness, disease, natural disasters or accidents. And he will do it by stirring up anger, jealousy, hatred and murder in the heart of a human being.
If he can’t steal faith or kill people, he’ll destroy anything else he can so they can’t be used to nurture faith or preserve life. He’ll destroy the truth with lies, stir up strife in marriages, families, neighborhoods and nations. He will turn misunderstandings into full-blown wars.
Many people think this enemy is imaginary and that’s the way he likes it. You sure won’t defend against an enemy you don’t think is real. It’s never a mystery to me when I see news stories about murder, not even mass murder. It’s just another day on the job for the enemy of our souls.
“Why?” is the wrong question. What can be done about it, is the right question. Changing people from the inside out is the first step, which is what Jesus came to do. That’s the kind of news I’d like to see more of in the headlines.