Archive for August, 2014

18
Aug
14

Blessed are the peacemakers

As I see images from the ongoing and out of control rioting in Ferguson, Missouri; I am struck by the pure and unbridled hatred being manifested by people toward the police. These people are willing to sacrifice their very lives to prove their point that all cops are bad and deserve to die. I am left with the overwhelming question in my mind; where does all this hate come from?

Next to the restaurant where my wife works is a new hotel just built last year. Yesterday morning and then again this morning we noticed about 20-25 Missouri State Police cars parked in the lot. We found out that this is where the beleaguered men and women on the front lines of the street warfare in Ferguson come to catch a few hours of sleep in between shifts.

This morning I saw one of those men as he got out of his patrol car heading for the hotel. The man looked like death warmed over. He was obviously tired to the bone and stressed out mentally after yet another night of conflict, tear gas, arrests and shots being fired. All I could think of was that this man probably had a wife and children at home worried sick about his safety. I can tell you in no uncertain terms, this man WAS NOT A PIG, as the protesters proclaim.

My heart goes out to those charged with “keeping the peace”, for theirs in a job no one appreciates or understands. They must put themselves in the line of fire in order to get different sides to back down, listen and hopefully talk. No wonder Jesus said that peacemakers are blessed. Anyone who has to mediate a conflict, whether verbal or with weapons of destruction, has to have nerves of steel and a heart immune from personal emotions.

As I see images of men, women and children literally running for their lives in Iraq, I am struck by the fact that in so many places on this earth, hatred and absolute disregard for the value of human life is non-existent. Just as in all cases of genocide, the humanity of the enemy has been removed and all that is left is a body (no different than a deer, rabbit or other hunted animal) that needs to be exterminated as one would get rid of roaches or ants.

It is a travesty that abortion is still legal, and it is truly a horrible thing that so many unborn children are murdered each day around the world. But, what about actual living, breathing, walking and talking people. Is not their systematic genocide even more grotesque and ugly than killing an unborn child? Of all the atrocities man does to man, none is worse than genocide, otherwise known as ethnic cleansing.

Adolph Hitler set about seeking to systematically purge his new kingdom of Jews. Millions of people were killed for no other reason than their ethnicity. In Rwanda, a half of million people of one tribe were killed (usually with a machete) by another tribe as they sought retribution for horrible atrocities in the past and to cleanse the country of their presence and memory.

Ethnic cleansing, unbridled hatred by one race toward another and the mistaken belief that one group of people is universally better or anointed to be most powerful on earth leads to mass murder, rioting in the streets and a general sense of uneasiness everywhere. Add into this equation the power of religious hatred and the outcome is horrifying and senseless.

We live in a world ready to explode with anger, righteous indignation and the burning lust to spill blood of perceived enemies. It seems that each day brings a new challenge for those charged with keeping the peace or mediating between warring parties. Please pray for those who must put themselves in harm’s way in order to calm down the fires of hatred ready to erupt into savage brutality at any moment.

12
Aug
14

Riots are NEVER a good thing

A few blocks from where I once worked selling cars in Ferguson, Missouri, a young man was shot and killed by a policeman which in turn has triggered ongoing and increasingly violent riots in the whole St. Louis area. Demonstrations are perfectly legal and entirely understandable but rioting, stealing, looting and destroying property is NOT.

It is interesting that the things going on in my area are the very things brought up and prohibited in the New Testament. Obviously the idea of people using a situation to justify rioting is not a modern phenomenon for it has been a part of cultures for thousands of years.

We need look no further than the mob action relating to the apprehension, “trial” and sentencing of Jesus to see that when leaders (especially religious leaders) stir up the people into a frenzy, the results are predictable and unpleasant. Is it not possible that the reason Pilate gave into the demands of the people to crucify Jesus was his fear that if he did not, the people would break through the Romans guards and crucify him?

On more than one occasion, the Apostle Paul was caught in public riots that nearly cost him his life. In Acts 19, while Paul was at Ephesus, people upset with losing money making idols of the goddess Diana, caused a riot that would have killed Paul if the disciples had not restrained him and safely took him away from the upheaval. An excellent definition of a mob is recorded in Acts 19:32 where it says:

Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Most people who participate in a riot have no clue why they are rioting. The confusion of the situation leads to lack of communication which in turn leads to clamor and mass destruction. While in Jerusalem, Paul went to the temple to purify himself in Acts 21. What happened next defines a riot and almost claimed Paul’s life:

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.

35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

Acts 21:26-35

Mob action is dangerous and many times leads to a full blown riot. A riot is a violent disturbance where angry and out of control people damage property and physically injure others. Rioting, reveling, clamoring etc are specifically forbidden numerous places in both Paul’s and Peter’s epistles. God’s people should NEVER be lured into a riot or mob action. There is absolutely no justification for anyone claiming to know and love God to participate, incite or take pleasure in anything resembling a riot.

My heart aches for what is happening in the St. Louis area for innocent and gullible people are being lured into doing things both illegal and dangerous. I pray that calmer heads prevail and the vultures descending on the area from other states fail in their attempts to incite the people to even more dangerous and damaging actions.