Don’t we see that word every time a troubled young man turns a gun on a room full of innocent souls? The clueless media erupt in a handwringing frenzy, confused that evil would rear its ugly head in their post-Christian utopia. Distraught family and friends are forced into the center ring of a media circus, unable to grieve in peace. Psychiatrists stream out of green rooms to lecture news anchors on the various psychological disorders that might be to blame. Nanny Staters, always eager to treat symptoms instead of the festering wound, flood public venues with calls for gun control. Enlightened Ones, who ordinarily deny the reality of God, take to the Internet to demand God’s people explain why he allows evil in his world.
Meanwhile, devastated souls — alone in their grief — want nothing more than the comfort of a friend’s arm around their shoulders.
Why? Why would Adam do something like this?
We’ll probably never know why any of these poor kids snaps and carries out a travesty like this. Looking for reason in an irrational mind is a fruitless endeavor. So many variables in the complex interactions that bring a young man to the brink of insanity.
But we can know one thing for sure that will help us understand why this happened, and we’ve all been talking about it already.
Adam Lanza was lonely.
One of the first insights Scripture offers us is when the LORD God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him.” (Genesis 2:18 NLT)
It wasn’t good for the first Adam to be alone, and it wasn’t good this past week. Adam Lanza apparently didn’t have anyone he could turn to, someone he could confide in, a friend who knew the pain in his heart and was willing to sit with him, listen to him, care about him, cry with him. He wasn’t a monster. He was a lonely, broken, miserable kid.
Loneliness is one of the fundamental brokennesses of our society. Focused on self-satisfaction, we drive others away. Others are only too willing to be driven away because they also seek self-satisfaction. Our culture tells us the goal is satisfying ourselves. The truth is, real satisfaction only comes with self-sacrifice.
So here we are, a nation of lonely, broken, miserable individuals — separated from God and from each other.
And here we are, believers, at the heart of the greatest missional opportunity our nation offers us. Who better fits the “least of these” category than the misfit loner?
While most of our neighbors aren’t the misfits Adam Lanza was, most of them are every bit as lonely — and we are citizens of a kingdom built on relationship.
Are you “Gospel-centered”? Are you concerned about being “relevant” in your culture? Do you want to bring justice to people in desperate need? Set your sights on breaking the oppression of loneliness that torments so many poor souls in your community.
Who is the lonely person in your world? Is there a misfit teenager in your school? Is there a single parent down the street? Is there someone in your office who keeps to himself and interacts awkwardly? Is there a nursing home in your area? With the Good’s Shepherd’s compassion for an injured lamb, reach out to the lonely people around you.
You may wind up saving a life. It may be you save 28.