Wednesday, July 25, 2012
10:13 PM | By Pastor Harold Warner
Unfortunately, I have been where the residents of Aurora, CO are, as the eyes of the nation are upon them in the wake of the horrific massacre at a movie theater last week that left 12 people dead and another 58 wounded. I live in Tucson, AZ where in January of 2011 a crazed gunman attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and the violent rampage left 6 people dead, and 12 others injured. Like Colorado, it sent waves of anger, shock, grief and commentary through the city and across the land. This brings to the forefront my premise: that it seems that violence is escalating all around us, on so many different levels. You cannot help but think, what’s going on? what’s at the root of all this violence? why the increase? how will it ever end? As Christians, it should provoke us to think clearly and Biblically about what is happening in our land, all around us.
THE VIRUS OF VIOLENCE
SOCIETAL “TIPPING POINT”
The comparisons with our age are irrefutable. It reflects the proliferation that defined Noah’s day. We have the constant threat of terrorism; then there is media violence; domestic violence; workplace violence (which actually coined the phrase “going Postal”); school violence (79% of students, between the age of 12-18, admit to bullying); tribal violence throughout the world; gang violence and more. Two other interesting features of our age should be noted. The first is the increase of violence among girls. From police chiefs, to school teachers, to social workers, they are all testifying to an alarming new trend in the U.S. – which is girls becoming more violent, and more often. One commented, “It’s a nationwide phenomenon, and it’s catching us all off guard.” The other feature is the popularity of extremely violent video games, which is $$ billion dollar a year industry. People, mostly young men, will line up for hours, all night if necessary, for the release of such games as Halo, Medal of Honor, Metal Gear Solid, Diablo, Black Ops. Studies have shown that exposure to these games activates the aggression center in the human brain while de-activating the emotional center. The earth was filled with violence. I’m not trafficking in hyperbole.
There are two things that stand out and should be a major concern about this “virus of violence.” The first is VIOLENCE AS ENTERTAINMENT. Graphic violence is promoted and glorified by Hollywood on a regular basis. There is such a duplicity at work: they claim to be shocked and horrified by events in Aurora, CO yet they continue to produce films filled with gratuitous violence on a regular basis. The second concern is the DE-SENSITIZING that is at work. The truly frightening thing today is the obliteration or crippling of the human conscience. This is the reason for the title of this blog posting. (Proverbs 4:17) says, “For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.” I like how The Message paraphrase puts things, “Perversity is their food and drink, violence their drug of choice.” The choice of words is right on target: it acts like a drug!
THE ANATOMY OF VIOLENCE
The Bible always takes us deeper, behind-the-scenes, to the true source of things. When describing what put things over the top, in God’s mind, about Noah’s generation, it says “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.” What caused God to say “Enough!” (I can’t take it anymore) was the mental saturation of wickedness that gave birth to a world filled with violence. Similar to the Psalms that says, “No, in your heart you plan evil; you think up violent crimes in the land.” (Ps.58:2) The increased violence reminds us not only of our “times” but it should also tell us something about the nature of man! While evolution argues that mankind is getting better, I think the facts and reality are telling us that we are getting worse! Clay Sterret spoke truly,
“Our American society is extremely violent: we love violent movies and video games. We love violence in sports. We legally allow 4000 brutal murders of (unborn) children every day in our hospitals and clinics, and then we get shocked when a child (that we can physically see) gets brutally murdered.”I think we could easily edit that to say, “then we get shocked when someone goes on a killing spree.”
I wonder if there’s any connection between increased violence and increased rejection of God’s laws and restraints? The Ten Commandments were given to restrain lawless and rebellious men. Hmmm, public schools and buildings are now being told that any public display of the “10” is “unconstitutional” and we act surprised when people act the way they do?! (Proverbs 29:18) gives us a true autopsy when it says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Look at the connection between not giving God his rightful place and people casting off restraints?! Various translations say, “they run wild...people are uncontrolled...crime runs wild.” You see, there is a “spirit of violence” that goes beyond guns and knives and fists. Scripture talks about the “violence” of bearing a grudge, the violence of enticing others to evil, the violence of divorce (TM, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage”).
VICTORY OVER VIOLENCE
Let me close by reminding you that this involves EVERYONE of us. This is not just a bit of religious moralizing for a few, this is a truth that applies to all of humankind. The headline would have grabbed everyone’s attention. It would’ve said something like “Pilate Orders The Murder of Innocent Worshipers.” Everyone in Jerusalem and the surrounding region would’ve been talking about this. They would’ve been discussing the especially heinous aspects to this murder and act of cruel violence. I’m sure they would’ve emphasized how innocent the victims were; after all, they had simply come to Jerusalem and the Temple to worship, and perhaps take part in one of the feast days. Little did they know that Pilate would use this to send another brutal message about the might of Rome and how futile it would be for anyone to try to resist it. The people informed Jesus about what had taken place and I’m sure were eager to hear his thoughts on the matter. However, I don’t think they were prepared for what he had to say. “About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. "Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?" Jesus asked. "Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.” (Luke 13:1-3) He wasn’t advocating the violence that occurred, but he did use this to remind them (and you and I) of our own individual need to repent and get right with God. You see, the proper response to the senseless violence in Aurora, CO, should move us to pray for the families and friends of the victims. Most of all, it should serve as a reminder to every one of us of our greatest need. In the end, that grace alone, is sufficient to answer to the plague afflicting our nation. Great or small, rich or poor, no matter what your race, ethnic background or education might be: REPENT, TURN TO GOD, AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!
- Tucson, AZ, United States
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