"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"
In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, there have been numerous articles unveiling the details of the massacre, pairing with other articles that attempt to process the depth of depravity Stephen Paddock put on display. You have undoubtedly read or heard multiple sides of this story and, perhaps, struggled with the way you should understand it.
The truth is that we cannot fully understand this sickness. As the prophet Jeremiah said in the verse above, Who can understand the human heart? It truly is desperately sick.
Although we are unable to wrap our minds around the gross severity of Paddock's sinful act, we can understand one thing: we are all capable of the same thing.
You may think that you're exempt from this kind of activity -- that murder is beyond your capability. After all, Paddock not only busted out the windows of his hotel room and shot hundreds of people, but he also thought about it for days leading up the event, filmed himself committing the crime, and ultimately took his own life. Who can imagine doing such a thing?
We would do well to remember the words of Jesus.
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister 'Raca,' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell."
"What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person."
What readers of Scripture discover is that we're all bad -- we are all evil. This depravity which we find so shocking is the same depravity that humanity collectively shares in. Before a finger pulls a trigger, there are bullets of hate flying free in the heart of man. God knows those thoughts and He sees them as worthy of the strictest judgment.
This is not to say that all sin is of an equal consequence. In the First Covenant, different sins were prescribed different consequences. However, those who read the Bible also learn that our hearts are equally horrific due to the common sin inherited from Adam.
Every person has been angry with another, effectively calling him or her a "fool." Every person has seen the effects of their fallen nature, whether it was evil thoughts, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lies, slander, or Paddock's final choice, murder. Every person's heart is dark.
The human heart is the darkest place.
But God, in His goodness, offers man a new heart. A heart full of light and truth. A heart inhabited by God Himself. We get this heart by trusting in His Son.
Jesus, the Man who is God, came to earth for the purpose of dying on a cross for the dark hearts of man. He took on the wrath of God in the place of sinful people so that by His sacrifice and through His power displayed in His resurrection, men may be saved by believing in His finished work.
When you trust in what Jesus has done, you're free from the darkest place. You have a place reserved for you in the presence of God, who dwells in light, because He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.
Let the Vegas massacre remind us of how bad we all are.
Let it remind you, or bring you, to how good God is.