It happened this summer near the summit of the ninth highest mountain on earth, Pakistan’s 26,660-foot Nanga Parbat. More than a dozen people were at Base Camp. Late on a Saturday night, gunmen, local villagers, dressed in military uniforms invaded the camp. They spared three Pakistanis in camp who, though of a different dialect and locale, convinced the attackers they were of the same faith. Then, in what the shooters called revenge for the death of Osama bin Laden, they shot 11 people–3 Ukrainian, 3 Chinese, 2 Slovaks, a Nepali, a Pakistani, and a Lithuanian. Not one was an American. It was something even more than brutal. It was completely misguided (via news.national geographic.com).
These deaths were tragic no matter what, but the perpetrators were so blinded by anger, grief, and revenge that they took it out on the wrong people. Eleven families are left to grieve, a mourning made worse by knowing their deaths were a case of mistaken identity. What a tragic story!
While we would never don assault rifles and senselessly fire upon innocent people, we can cause innocent victims of our own “misfiring.” When we allow our anger to get away from us, we can take it out on perfect strangers (e.g., road rage), the wrong people (e.g., misplaced anger), or even a person who happens to be in the line of fire when we are in a bad mood. Christian influence is scarred and tainted by the Christian who cannot control his or her temper, whether in the privacy of the home or a more public forum. James tells us man’s anger doesn’t accomplish the righteous life God desires (1:20). Solomon writes that anger rests in the bosom of fools (Ecc.7:9). Proverbs 14:17 says, “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly.” Repeatedly, God tells us to get a hold of ourselves. We can assault with rapid-fire words, fierce body language, and outbursts of anger (Gal. 5:20), severely wounding others but threatening to cause our own spiritual death. May we remind ourselves of the power of our reactions. Let’s not just keep the gun on safety. Let’s remove the rounds!