Alex Deaton and the San Bernardino Terrorist – A Common Enemy

From last weekend until early this week, a statewide manhunt, in Mississippi, for Alex Deaton turned into a nationwide manhunt. Alex first used his hands to kill his ex-girlfriend then he went on what appears to have been a random shooting spree throughout several states. He killed several people before he was finally apprehended in Kansas. As the manhunt continued I viewed Alex’s Facebook page to see what I could learn about him and I noticed something that raised my eyebrows. It appears that he was as common of an American guy as they make – complete with a daughter he seemed to love, tribal tattoos, and a Harley Davidson. He definitely didn’t seem depressed, murderous, insane, or even on the path to becoming as such. Yet I couldn’t help but find irony as I considered his ongoing crime spree alongside one of the memes founds on his page.

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I’m not going to spend time discussing the ignorance of that meme, or the false dichotomy that the meme makes between Muslims and Americans, as though a Muslim cannot at the same time be an American, nor will I discuss the fact that the gunman who the meme seems to reference (the San Bernardino shooter) was an American born citizen. What I think is most worthy of consideration is the fact that the same murderer was responsible for the instances in Mississippi and San Bernardino, even though he used two different people from two different ethnic backgrounds, two different religious professions, and two different skin tones to commit his deplorable actions.

As Americans, or maybe just as humans in general, we spend so much time blaming other religions, races, and nationalities for the grievous acts that are happening throughout our land and the rest of the world. We get so focused on the different types of reasoning that leads to such regretful ends that we miss the fact that all of the different styles of flawed and evil reasoning leads to the exact same end. Radical Islamic terrorism leads to the same end as does the greed that drives the Mexican cartels. Similarly, the ideology fueling the gang bangers in Chicago leads to the same end as did the flawed mindset of the jealous ex-boyfriend from Mississippi, named Alex Deaton. The reason they all lead to the same end is because Jesus’ words were true.

“[Jesus said to them,] You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar.”  John 8:44

The simple truth is that those who reject Jesus and, instead, live for themselves live according to their father’s will, who is Satan. His will is only to lie, steal, kill, and destroy. When we lie, we speak Satan’s language. When we steal from others, kill one another, or destroy that which God intended to be good, we act in direct accordance with Satan’s character and his will for us. That means we must move our attention away from ideologies, nationalities, and skin colors as though they are the source of the problems in our world and we must, instead, realize that all of the perpetrators of such evils have one thing in common and that commonality is the true root world’s problems – they all reject the gospel and refuse to submit to the lordship of Jesus.

There is no need for racism or nationalism. They are counterproductive in our fight. Our fight is not “us versus them.” Rather, our fight is us versus him.

For eight years during the Obama administration, it seems I heard on repeat that “we cannot defeat our enemy, unless we name our enemy.” I’m in total agreement with that sentiment, so let’s name our enemy. Our enemy is Satan and he has blinded the eyes of the world and, sadly, even the eyes of many Christians, so that they focus only on surface level explanations for the death and destruction that we see throughout our world. He has made it all to easy for those who are blinded to completely miss the fact that all of those different explanations for evil have the same root cause – namely, himself. Satan is our enemy. For that reason, there is no need for racism or nationalism. They are counterproductive in our fight. Our fight is not “us versus them.” Rather, our fight is us versus him.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood…but against the spiritual forces of evil. Ephesians 6:12

With that in mind, I urge you to hate what is evil and to love what is good! Hate Satan. Hate the death and destruction that he brings. Hate the lies that he inspires. At the same time, love the people for whom Christ died. Have pity on those who are still blinded by Satan. Love Jesus enough to obey his command to take his light into the darkness of the world and to make disciples of the whole world (Matt. 28:19-20). In case you’re uncertain, the whole world includes even the most vile people who still live according to Satan’s will. It will only be after you realize that Jesus saved you as you actively lived according to the same evil desires that drove Alex Deaton and the San Bernardino murderer to kill innocent people that you will develop enough love for Jesus and for other people to drive you to directly attack the true enemy by means of loving and pursuing with the gospel those over whom he still has his control.

Our enemy is not another religious set of beliefs. Our enemy is not another country or ethnic minority. Our enemy is not the people of a certain race. Our enemy is Satan. If we lose sight of that fact we will never be able to be used to defeat him.

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