Ending Community Violence

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Steve Tran of Westminster, California, closed the door on twenty-five activated bug bombs, he thought he had seen the last of the cockroaches that shared his apartment. When the spray reached the pilot light of the stove, it ignited, blasting his screen door across the street, breaking all his windows, and setting his furniture ablaze. “I really wanted to kill all of them,” he said. “I thought if I used a lot more, it would last longer.” According to the label, just two canisters of the fumigant would have solved Tran’s roach problem. The blast caused over $10,000 damage to his apartment building. And the cockroaches? Tran reported, “By Sunday, I saw them walking around.”

As Proverbs 29:11 says, only “a fool gives full vent to his anger.” Texas State Representative Keith Oakley isn’t popular these days. He fought for a state referendum on whether to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons. He got a phone call. “A guy with Peaceable Texans for Guns called me the other day to say he was going to kill me.”

Violence has been a long standing problem for humanity, it is not a contemporary problem as we are lead to believe. (Gen 6:11-13) Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.

God is clearly a God of anti-violence! We find that coming out in the laws of the Old Testament. You shall not murder. No one has the right to take another life.
We sometimes feel justified in lashing back after we have been done an injustice, but we haven’t the right. Life and death belong to God. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. All of these laws were to protect the purity of God’s creation. But they were also to keep order in society.
To promote peace and harmony and prevent violence.

What is God’s goal for society? (Mic 4:3-6) They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

The Christian is not to wait for some mystical moment in the future for an end to violence. (Luke 10:30-38) In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” Our involvement cannot be minimized. “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus said, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

How is the Christian to deal with the issue of violence and to stop it? Violence in America goes much deeper than drugs, gun control, and gangs. It is rooted in a philosophy that cheapens life from the moment we are born. Each year in America, an average of fourteen men are killed by soft-drink vending machines. After not receiving a drink or due change, these men shook the machines until they tipped over and crushed them to death. Each man became the victim of his own anger.
Inappropriate anger is a dangerous weapon.

“Is this going to take long? I’ve got someplace to go tonight.” An eight-year-old Chicago boy being questioned by detectives after he shot a girl classmate in the spine with a semiautomatic handgun. The problem is coming from home, not the street.

Dad turned on the television so his five-year-old daughter could watch her favorite cartoon. When he turned on the program, there was a mean cartoon character threatening “the good guys.” Marie instructed her father that the program was okay with the following assurance: “It’s not good now, but it will be good at the end.”
I’ve felt that way about the Christian life at times.

All of us are appalled at violence that takes the form of killing, arson, lynching, bombing, vandalism, assault and harassment. But the truth is that violence begins long before those acts occur. A seed is planted and takes root and grows into the ugliness of violence. In the home and in our circle of friendships we plant the seeds of violence. The dad who turned on the TV with the cartoons, why do they always have to be hitting or shooting each other? It may seem innocent, but over a long period of time, we become desensitized to violence.

It starts off as a subtle form of prejudice. Jokes, stereotypes and rumors made against races, women or men, religions, sexual orientations, and even disabilities.
Did you know that the second highest rate of violence (2nd only to race) in the United States is against religious groups? It is higher than even acts of violence against gays and lesbians.

What started out as a form of subtle prejudice moves to ridicule, social avoidance, name-calling and scapegoating. All of this is happening and we don’t even realize that it is taking place around us. The only cure for hate is love. We wouldn’t want to be the butt of jokes, or prejudice. Jesus said it best, Do to others as you would have them do to you.

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