If you have watched any news sources over the last three days then you have seen a constant flow of news coverage about the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.
On Friday, December 14th a young man named Adam Lanza, age 20, went into the elementary school after killing his mother earlier, he killed 20 elementary students, 6 adult staff, and himself.
28 people dead and everyone wants to know why he did it.
While listening to FoxNews on Friday night, Bill Hemmer made a sensational comment stating: “When you’re five years old, your believing that Santa Clause is going to be in your house in 10, 11 days, and today the Devil came to this town.”
While I do not know if the devil really came to Connecticut on Friday or not, I do know that there was a disturbing similarity between the heart of the killer, and what we read in scripture about the Devil. Both wanted to be like God.
“Open World” and “Free Roam” are two terms that describe a certain style of video games which may help us understand the heart of this killer.
There is a mysterious fascination and attraction to open world games. An individual has the ability to control their character and do basically whatever they want with little to no consequence. In these games an individual can walk down the street and assult anyone they want, just because they can. They can punch a stranger in the face, beat him to death with their fists, or just take out a gun and shoot them dead in the streets. In this kind of game an individual can walk into a building and rob the place choosing to kill or spare anyone inside. In this game style an individual can walk out into the road, stop any vehicle he desires, kill the owner of the vehicle and drive away with their vehicle without any consequence. In this game one learns that he can be like God and do whatever he wants, and nothing can stop him.
Why do people love these games so much? Because we want to be like God.
Isaiah 14:14 quotes the angel Lucifer stating these words just before he became the Devil. “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
It is interesting that the first picture of darkness in the history of the world is a beautiful angel deciding that he was not content being ruled by God, but instead wanted to be like God. He did not want to be like God in character, or purity, or holiness. No, he wanted to be like God in power and authority. He wanted to be in control.
The young man who committed this tragic crime wanted the same thing. He wanted to be like God. I know little about him, but one part of this story was profound to me. The news reported that this young man saw the police charging towards him and so he entered the last room, sprayed off some shots from his assault rifle and then switched to his handgun and killed himself. If his purpose was to cause as much pain as he could, why did he stop shooting others, take the time to get his pistol, and kill himself?
This is it: Lanza chose to stop shooting others and kill himself, because he wanted to be in control. Had he just kept shooting kids, he would have been shot and killed either way, but he was not willing to die by the bullet of a police officer, because that would mean that he was not in control. He killed himself to validate his artificial authority to himself, ultimately proving that no one was in charge but him, and no one could stop him. He could do whatever he wanted. He was like god from his understanding of god.
Each of us have a desire to be great, powerful, and in control like we understand God to be. Yet God, when he became a man did not choose to come to us displaying his power and his control, but chose to display his love and his servanthood. Should we strive to be like God? Yes, but not according to our often flawed understanding of God, we seem to think of God as some cosmic being who sits up in space and controls the details of our lives like a video game choosing who will live and who will die. No, we should be like God according to his Character. We must lead others to the Saving grace of Jesus Christ by imitating his love, his compassion and his servanthood.
When we crave the position and power of God we experience great destruction. When we imitate the character of Christ, we make an eternal impact.