Jesus tells us to “strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Seeking peace, and peaceful solutions, is not only Biblical, it is safe. I was absolutely devastated to hear about the recent murder of a man over the issue of texting, in a Florida movie theater. The story goes like this;
“The encounter between the victim and the shooter began during an afternoon showing of the Robert Redford film "Lone Survivor" at the Grove 16 theater in the Tampa suburb of Wesley Chapel. The former (police) officer, Curtis Reeves, was with his wife and sat behind Chad Oulson and his wife. Chad Oulson was using his cell phone and Reeves told him to put it away, according to police and witnesses. The two men began to argue and Reeves walked out of the theater. Police said Reeves was going to complain to a theater employee, according to the police report. When Reeves returned, witnesses and authorities said that Oulson asked him if he had gone to tell on him for texting. Oulson reportedly said, in effect: I was just sending a message to my young daughter. Voices were raised. Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves, according to a police report, and then the former Tampa Police Department officer took out a .380 semi-automatic handgun and shot Oulson.” Mr. Oulsen died at the scene.
As I read this I could not help but wonder; what if Mr. Reeves had simply let the texting pass? According to the report it was not going on during the movie but during the previews of coming attractions. If it truly was a distraction what if Mr. Reeves had 'asked' Mr. Oulsen, in a kind manner, to stop instead of 'telling' him to? What if Mr. Oulsen had been more considerate of others and had complied with the request immediately? What if Mr. Oulsen had let the whole issue drop, regardless of whether or not he was offended or felt that he had a right to do what he was doing? What if he hadn't gotten angry and threw popcorn at Mr. Reeves? What if Mr. Reeves had reported the incident to the manager instead of becoming personally enraged? In brief, what if both men had heeded the word of God to seek peace with all men, to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3), to forgive the trespasses of others even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven men (Ephesians 4:32)?
The short answer is that one man would not have so senselessly taken the life of another and the other man would not have so senselessly lost his. Many people think that the Bile is merely a religious manual. They do not realize that the words contained in it are more than words of eternal life, they are words also of civil social life. Had such words been heeded, even if by men who have no particular religious or Christian convictions, Mr Oulsen would be alive today and Mr. Reeves would not have stained his soul with murder and ruined his life.