“What do you think God thinks of what’s going on in the news nowadays?” Pastor Hendricks said from the front of the room. “Barry. Give us your thoughts.”
Barry shook his head and snapped himself back to attention. He looked around at everyone else in the youth group then back up at Pastor Hendricks and cleared his throat. “Uh…Jesus.”
The kids burst out laughing, but Pastor Hendricks just shook his head.
“The shootings, Barry. The guy who’s been targeting the senators’ kids. What do you think Jesus thinks about them?”
Barry scratched his head. He honestly hadn’t even been following the news that much. The only stuff he knew about these shootings was stuff people at church were saying on Sunday and at youth group on Friday. “Ummmm…I guess He doesn’t like it…?”
The kids laughed again and Pastor Hendricks sighed. “Anyone else?”
A girl named Loretta raised her hand. “I think He hates it because doesn’t He say that “vengeance is mine” or something like that? And then the whole “don’t murder” thing too. I dunno.”
“You’re right,” Pastor Hendricks said. “So if He says that vengeance is His, what does this mean for us as Christians? How do you think He wants us to respond to stuff like this?”
There was a short silence as everybody thought about the question. But Barry stared up at the ceiling, wondering how much longer until he’d get to beat his friends in Call of Duty again.
“I think we’re supposed to forgive the guy,” a kid named Gary said. “You know, love your enemies.”
“That’s right,” said Pastor Hendricks, pointing his Bible at him.
Another kid scoffed and Barry rolled his eyes. That part he’d heard. And he thought it was bullcrap.
“So we’re supposed to sit back and let people keep shooting us?” one kid named Josh asked. “What if the shooter killed one of us? Would you just shake the guy’s hand and say, ‘Hey, Jesus loves you. I forgive you.’?”
Pastor Hendricks opened his palms and shrugged. “We’re supposed to love our enemies, Josh.”
“I don’t know,” Josh said. “That sounds like being a punk to me.”
“You agree, Barry?” Pastor Hendricks said.
Barry muttered under his breath before answering. “Uh…yeah. I mean, if somebody shot my sister, I’m not gonna forgive them. I’m gonna shoot them back.”
“But what does the Bible say?”
“Uh…‘Jesus loves me’? So He’ll still love me if I kill the guy, right?”
The other kids laughed again.
“‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness.’” Pastor Hendricks recited. “‘Only light can do that.’ Do you know who said that?”
“Jesus?” Barry replied.
“Martin Luther King.”
“But Malcolm X said that it’s stupid to teach somebody to not defend themselves if they keep getting attacked,” Josh replied.
“Yeah,” said Barry. “What he said.”
“So are you saying Jesus is stupid, then?” Pastor Hendricks asked.
There was a short silence.
“Well,” Barry finally said. “Somebody’s being stupid.”
“I just think that some things can be dealt with in a nice Christian way,” Josh went on. “But some things have to be done with a little more…bullets.”
“Well,” Pastor Hendricks said, clearing his throat. “We’ll see how well this guy’s plan works out. When he gets caught and killed, we’ll see which idea was stupid and which wasn’t.”
“I think he just got caught,” Loretta said, holding up her phone.
“Why were you on your phone, Loretta?”
“I’m sorry!” she said. “But you have to see this. It’s on YouTube! They just caught him!”
Pastor Hendricks rolled his eyes, but he reluctantly walked over to the computer and the video was the first one trending on YouTube. Within seconds, it was playing on the screen and the youth group was watching.
The video showed the SWAT team barging into a dark basement and surrounding a man in a Guy Fawkes mask sitting at a computer behind a desk. His hands were behind his back and he stood up when they told him to freeze. And the second he did, the SWAT team opened fire and he dropped to the floor.
The kids gasped and screamed around the room. And just like that, it wasn’t their normal Bible study anymore. The SWAT team moved in and one guy reached down and pulled the mask off the man’s face. But it wasn’t a man. It was a teenage boy. The SWAT team stepped back and looked at each other and the whole youth group gasped in shock. Who was that kid?
The next second, the video fizzled and they saw the man in the Guy Fawkes mask again.
“The police pinpointed my location and managed to find me,” he explained. “They opened fired immediately, hoping to kill me. But what they didn’t know was that the person they killed was actually the son of a Florida senator.”
The youth group was dead silent. Barry’s jaw had dropped. This was crazy. It was like some kind of sick movie.
“Instead of changing the laws,” the man said “You’re still trying to kill me and you’ve ended up killing one of your own children. This will continue to happen until the law is changed. This will only end one way. Change the law. Or I will kill all your children.”
And the video ended.
The room was dead silent.
This guy had pulled the classic bait and switch on everybody and no one saw it coming. Barry couldn’t help but think, “Who was stupid now?”