He came for one reason.
He came armed with the mass murderer’s weapon of choice, locked and loaded with bullets, hate and fear. He came to steal, kill and destroy.
Even more deadly than his military-grade assault rifle — purchased by someone who isn’t even old enough to buy beer (thanks, NRA) — the shooter had been concealing and carrying around the lie of “the great replacement,” a conspiracy theory so ludicrous it makes flat-earth proponents look like Einstein.
And yet this patently false and debunked theory is spewed regularly from one of the most-watched networks in America. Why? Fear sells.
“But, Steve,” you say, “Why don’t you just stick to writing about your grandson or that other warm, fuzzy stuff you usually spoon up biweekly?”
Because we need to get to work on a world where our kids and grandkids don’t have to worry about being murdered in the grocery store or finding the best place to hide in their classrooms.
How do we do it? We start by confronting the lie that tells us we always have to be afraid of someone or something, and from the manipulative marketing ploy telling us we need more guns to protect ourselves from more guns.
Am I saying the world is not a scary place sometimes? Of course not!
Just a few short weeks ago, Christians all over the world celebrated Easter. That celebration centers upon God’s ability to conquer our greatest fear — death. For some reason we tend to spiritualize that victory and, as a result, we can sometimes allow ourselves to be sucked back into a life of fear.
But perhaps Jesus’ followers would do well to remember that even the first words heralding his arrival were Fear not!
That means Jesus’ life of radical courage began and ended with the same message: we no longer have to be afraid. And it’s a phrase found hundreds of times in scripture.
How does that message change things? Fear has the ability to create hate:
Consider that, if I am afraid of you, you must not have my best interest at heart. If you aren’t concerned about me, then I don’t care about you either. And the more I think about it, the world might just be a better place without you.
It’s no surprise Jesus pointed out in Matthew 5:21-22 that murder starts not with the pull of a trigger but with hate in our hearts.
So it’s also no surprise Jesus came armed with something more powerful than anyone had ever experienced before. But it wasn’t to steal, kill or destroy. It was to bring life and love — more and better than anyone ever dreamed. (John 10:10)
He came for one reason. He came to replace hate.
Dr. Steve Cothran lives in Newnan and has been a Baptist youth pastor for over 30 years.