It is interesting how a casual glance at my Facebook feed could provide two bookends for much of what I have been processing since the Las Vegas attack. On one Facebook wall. I saw a video by the popular late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel said in regards to the tragic event in Las Vegas, “It seems like someone has opened a window into hell.”
At the other bookend was a pastor friend of mine who posted a section of Scripture written by Paul to Timothy, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.” In that text, Paul went on to provide a laundry list of human brokenness that will be generated in difficult times.
What I found interesting in my friend’s research was the word Paul used to describe "difficult" times. The word is rendered “perilous” and “terrible” in other translations. It is a word used only one other time in Scripture to describe the behavior of two men possessed by demons. In that text (Matthew 8:28), these men are described as exceedingly violent. In other words, they exhibited a form of violence beyond the norm.
Jimmy Kimmel said what so many in the Church have been uncomfortable saying to a culture who want some real answers to some very bizarre behavior. While many pursue a credibility with culture and want to not sound like some squirrely person that sees a demon behind every bush, there does come a time when even the popular culture knows something else is afoot that can only be described as evil crawling up through an open window from the very pit of hell.
While the facts are still coming in about the shooter in Las Vegas, what we do know at this point is that his behavior was a complete surprise to those who knew him. It came out of left field. The emerging reality is that some of the acts of violence that have taken place in our nation in the last decade are actually motivated and empowered by malevolent spirits. These spirits will use any form of human vulnerability as their window of opportunity.
It doesn't matter what you think about the opinions of Jimmy Kimmel or my pastor friend. To me, they are both speaking something valid and at a time in our national conversation where listening to each other has become a rare virtue. We have painted ourselves into our preferred corner of opinion and distrust anyone who approaches us with a differing take on our version of reality.
Instead of allowing yourself to be painted into a corner where you will experience conversational impotence, take another look at what is happening and engage in the conversations that may seem uncomfortable, but in the end, may reveal the way forward. In fact, get radical and go back into the Scripture to see what our spiritual forefathers and mothers did when they were faced with unusual demonstrations of darkness. An unvarnished reality of a spiritual battle between light and dark created their worldview and empowered the substance of their ministry. It should do the same for us if we are willing.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).