(Image: Third Option Men/David Jesse via Christian Post)
Colorado native David Jesse woke up Friday morning to the news of the mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater in which 12 people were killed and 58 injured and instantly felt the same way he did more than a decade ago after the Columbine tragedy.
While first recalling how Christian leaders at the time pointed to the evils of society in blaming the shootings at Columbine, he says that the Church is to blame for what happened in Aurora during the first showing of the new Batman movie.
"Thirteen years ago, when Columbine happened it hit me like a punch in the gut," the Christian speaker and author told The Christian Post on Friday shortly after posting his thoughts as a contributing writer for the men's ministry website Third Option Men.
The words for his column "The DARK Night Rises: Where is the LIGHT?" came after he says, "Everything that was in my heart 13 years ago came right back."
"In the wake of the horrific shooting at Columbine that resulted in 14 deaths and dozens of injuries, Christians all across the country jumped on the opportunity to blame society and Hollywood for the demise of culture," Jesse wrote. "They pointed out the similarities of scenes in movies like The Basketball Diaries and The Matrix, and the constant barrage of first-person shooter games like Doom, and proudly declared that the problem was that our culture had become so corrupt and obsessed with evil, that something like Columbine was inevitable."
The Colorado Springs resident continued, "We took some solace in stories of victims like Cassie Bernal and Rachel Scott, who stood strong in the face of the shooters who sought them out simply because of their faith in God. We celebrated these martyrs for their boldness, as we should have. But we missed the bigger point."
Jesse said the terrifying shooting in Aurora is not the fault of Hollywood filmmakers or society or of "a world walking further and further away from the Truth."
"The shooting in Denver yesterday is the fault of the Church," he wrote.
"It's our responsibility to stand up and make this world a better place and not sit around and condemn others when they act the way that they are going to act. The world is a dark place," he told CP.
He said that although some good did come out of the Columbine tragedy, such as the personal testimonies of Christians standing for their faith and the ministries that formed afterwards, Christians as a whole needed to do some self-evaluation.
"Looking back, I see the same problem as a potential today that happened then and that is we missed the Church's opportunity to have an honest moment and say that if the world is not the way it's supposed to be it's not the world's fault, it's our fault," he explained. "We can't look at the world the way it is and think that the Church is being the salt and the light that Christ called us to be in it."
The Church is not functioning according to the Word of God today, said Jesse, who authored the book Midnight Approaches: Understanding the Times and Knowing What To Do About Them.
"We've allowed ourselves to be corrupted by the world. We've allowed the world to influence us instead of what we are called to be, which is to influence the world."
It is the same "cycle" that Israel went through as shown throughout the Old Testament, he said.
"[Israelites] would be called as the light to the nation. They were put in the position on the crossroads of the world there in Israel to influence the nations as they traveled through. They would for a short period of time, but then instead of being the light of the nations they would allow the gods of those worlds and the cultures of those other nations to influence them to where they would begin to compromise," he said. "They were going in a completely opposite direction of what they were called to be. Because of that the world did not see the light they were supposed to see and Israel suffered judgment as the result of it."
Jesse concluded, "If you look at things the way they are today, we are being influenced by the world instead of the other way around. We look at the world and say 'that's terrible and things are getting bad and getting worse' and maybe it's 'the time that we live in.' Well, that's not acceptable anymore."
When asked what the Church and Christians can do specifically that's different than before in their reaction to tragedies such as the Aurora shooting, he said, "First, we have to be honest with ourselves and it starts with real repentance, not where we talk about this Sunday at church and say that we need to pray for the families and everybody involved with it. That's not a solution to the problem.
"We need some serious repentance where people of God look at their own personal lives and hearts and see where they compromised themselves and begin to repent, get on their face before God and ask Him to forgive and ask Him to change them from the inside out."
He said the second step for the Church is to reevaluate how it's sharing who Christ is to the world.
"I'm not saying to promote a social gospel or a prosperity gospel. We need to tell the people of this world that the world is broken, that it is damaged and it doesn't work the way it is supposed to work," he said. "It's time for the Church to say we don't have it figured out, but we know the one who does and we are willing to point you in the direction of hope, of light, of life and not despair, and death, and darkness which is what the world is screaming out right now. We've got to show them that Jesus is life."
Jesse pointed out that the only people Jesus condemned during his ministry on earth were the religious people who lived a hypocritical life.
"We (the Church) are living a hypocritical life. He is looking down on us right now and condemning us I believe because we haven't been what he called us to be," he said. "We are Jesus on this earth right now and unless we change the way we are doing things, and that begins with repentance and prayer, then we are going to be looking at this type of a tragedy or another tragedy that is even worse ten years down the road again and we are going to be saying the same things over and over again."