Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Uncomfortable Mirror of Elliot Rodger…
On the evening of May 23, the last day of Spring classes this past semester, Elliot Rodger, a 22 year-old part-time UCSB college student, ended up killing six people, besides himself, and injuring 13 more, as well as rocking Southern California and perhaps, even if only momentarily, the world.
Hate, narcissism, sadness, lonely, questionable values, materialistic, broken, self-absorbed, worldly, arrogant, shallow, jealous, insecure, seemingly-rejected, bitter, sick, entitled, godless, confused, hopeless, foolish, wanting to be loved or adored, lustful, worthy, idolatrous, spoiled, mislead, seemingly invisible, socially-challenged. These were some of the terms you used to describe what you observed in two of Elliot Rodger’s self-posted videos—videos he reposted shortly before he enacted his planned Day of Retribution for having been, as he interpreted it, rejected romantically by women.
This past Sunday I made the case, like an uncomfortable mirror held up to our faces, Elliot Rodger, his life, his family, his videos and his 141-page manifesto, whether we like it or NOT, is our…America, each and every family in America, each and every one of us… uncomfortable mirror. Sadly, we are Elliot and Elliot is us….hopefully perhaps,
not in one insane, misguided exploding nutshell, but certainly in undeniable portions as described above. And although Elliot had been diagnosed as having the autistic social disorder of Asperger’s Syndrome, what Elliot seemed to be saying underneath it all was that he just wanted to be validated. Like all of us, he wanted value and worth, or as Dr. Larry Crab describes human’s greatest emotional needs—to be significant and safe…to be valued and okay.
Elliot, in his own warped worldview, thought that the validation he so craved would only come through sexual intimacy with a beautiful girl. Ironically and tragically, he construed a world in which that was never going to experience it. Besides dressing nicely and appearing in public, he never reached out to any girls. Therefore, he created an existence in which he was never going to receive what he believed would make him truly happy. Trapped, in his “living hell,” as Elliot describes it, he decided that if he wasn’t going to have sex, others wouldn’t either. He became a god and attempted to play God, but as it turned out, Elliot was not a very good god.
And in fact, Elliot was never intended to be God or a god. Rather, the Scriptures tell us that there is only true source of lasting, sustainable significance and safety, or value and worth, and that is the Creator himself. Not only did God create us in his own image, after our Fall into sin and imperfection, through his Son’s sacrificial atonement for our Fall and the gift of his Spirit of truth and power, God is also recreating us into the image of his Son. Therefore, we HAVE VALUE! It was given to us on the cross. Our redemption—our value and eternal safety–according to Mark 10:35ff, was bought with the life of God himself. God so loved the world, that he gave…(He gave what?)…his Son…(to suffer, die and therefore make atonement for mankind’s imperfection) so that whoever puts his trust in him…his atonement…will live forever (with God) and will not die (forever). John 3:16.
No human, job, family, event, experience, moment, accomplishment, amount of money, fame or prestige will ever be able to give me the significance and safety that my broken soul so deeply craves. Why? Because they are not perfect. They are NOT God. They are NOT God enough. Too fragile; too imperfect, too fallen and flawed themselves. For a bit, perhaps? Moments, perhaps? But never enough to satisfy our desperate thirst. Only God can do this. And his well, water fountain…river of significance and safety… never ever runs dry. Every moment of every day, I can drink it in. I have value. I have worth, and NO ONE can take it away from me. Eternal fact. Trust. Faith. Believe. Say it again and again and again. God’s truth for my flawed truth. God’s value for man’s incomplete value of me.
Yes, sadly, we are Elliot and Elliot is us, but instead of angrily taking out our revenge upon the world for not having loved or admired us the way our souls so desperately crave to be loved or admired, by faith and trust, we can drink from the wellspring of value and worth that never runs dry (John 4:13ff; 7:37-39)—God or the eternal Spirit of God—and immediately have our soul’s thirst quenched. It makes all the difference in the world, and it could have made the difference in both Elliot and the lives of his victims and their families. And it can still make a difference, in the lives of a million, billion other partial-Elliots like all of us out there. The uncomfortable mirror ought to drive us to a savior, a deliverer…a validator. That savior…that validator is Jesus.
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org).