For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness' for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these things come from within; the are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God. Mark 7: 22-23, NLT
"I don't know what to say," one family member said in an interview Thursday night from Tarzana, in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. "I'm shaking right now. He was a nice guy. He put everyone before himself. It doesn't sound right because he wanted everyone to be happy."
This was the response from a family member of the Oregon gunman when they find out he had just completed a mass murder. Not only was the world shaken by the senseless act the gunman had done, but his family members were too, because it displayed character unlike the person they knew.
So what happened? What caused a once shy, law-abiding person who may have been raised in a God-fearing home, to turn into a cold and calculated mass murderer?
Could it have been his thought life? For each time I've read about the lives of mass murderers, the common thread that runs through each one is what they've placed into their thoughts. As they fed regularly on information which may have caused evil thoughts towards others, could it be that what eventually came out was what they placed within?
In biblical times, the religious teachers of the law were concerned about whether Jesus' followers would defile themselves if they ate before washing their hands, based on the Jewish custom of the day. Jesus explained the defilement of a person was not based on whether his followers washed their hands before eating, but what they placed regularly into their hearts and minds.
Rituals and traditions are important as we live our daily lives, but may this senseless killing, as well as others past, remind us to be careful of not only what we do without, but within.
Sharing the Word, as we continue to pray for the families of those killed at Umpqua Community College.