It’s the question that many Christians today are thinking, but few are offering answers to. 58 have died. Over 500 more injured. The shooter killed himself. The country shocked. Shocked at the devastation. Shocked at the unfathomable death toll. And it all happened in Las Vegas, the city known for gambling, alcohol, and the slogan, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” Because of this location, many Christians ask, was God attempting to punish Vegas for its reputation and “Sin City” appeal? Was this city and its many residents, business owners, and visitors worse sinners than the rest of us? Were they getting a wake up call?
I believe that we find an answer to this in Luke 13:4-5 where Jesus says, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Are mass tragedies aimed at populations of people who are the worst of sinners? I believe that Jesus teaches us here that the answer is no. Each one of us is a sinner in some way. Each of us is in need of Christ for repentance and healing. Each of us need to repent and ask for Christ to renew our hearts. That is true whether we talk about the “big” sins in our life or the “little” sins like white lies or ungodly thoughts.
Some would ask, what about the Old Testament? God told the Israelites to wipe the Canaanites off the map. Later, God uses the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar to punish Israel for its sins. Isn’t this similar? Isn’t God punishing Las Vegas for its sin the way that he used Hurricane Katrina to punish New Orleans for their sins in 2005? If you are asking yourself that, it is a good question. It is easy to find a parallel between these two. It’s important to remember that Israel was a nation wholly made up of believers. Today, no nation on earth fits this criteria. Not even the “Christian” nations. Also, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. However, the way that he reveals himself to his people changes. So does the way that he interacts with them. Thus, we come back to the New Testament and the tragedy at the tower of Siloam. Jesus specifically teaches that those who died weren’t greater sinners. So each of us can think on our shared humanity. Each of us are sinful. Each of us need Christ’s death on the cross. Each of us need forgiveness for our sins. Tragedies like this should be a sad, yet needed reminder for us. A reminder that regardless of where we are in life, Christ is our rock. He is our fortress that we must run to in a time such as this.