When it comes to lack of involvement by individuals who witness violent acts, the questions often raised by others go something like this: “Do people ever emerge from their online hibernation?” Or, “Why don’t we help one another out anymore?”
Let’s face it–we live in a sick society, and people are eager to stay inside where it’s safe. Getting out of their cars is a lost art for many, and while driving by in comfort, they take pictures of the violence they witness on their phones and post them on social media.
One symptom of this lack of involvement is the ever-increasing violence on our streets. But instead of stepping in and getting involved, we attempt to look the other way, and hope that things like abuse and random shootings will just go away.
I call this the ostrich approach. We go about our daily lives with our heads in the sand, and our comfort becomes our god. Therefore, rather than paying the price of involvement, we decide not to let violent events disrupt our busy schedules, and we delete these acts of outrage from our computer screens. Piously, we throw up our hands and ask, “What is the world coming to anyway?” Then, making some feeble excuse to salve our consciences, we drive off.
Let me make my point by talking about a classic argument that we all have to deal with. An article I read asks this age-old question. Do you control your environment, or does it control you? In answer, let’s compare the people of Bethesda, Maryland with those of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
The Bethesda residents are your classic suburbanites, and based on what the author said, they’re much like those blissfully ignorant people I mentioned above. In other words, they enjoy the advantages of money and higher education. They live in the right kind of houses and drive the right kind of cars.
But in spite of being the second most affluent neighborhood in the US, the author discusses a terrible act which took place at a local store. At this establishment, an employee murdered his co-worker. Although Apple employees apparently heard about what happened, they did nothing.
Unlike the Bethesda residents, the author claimed that the people of Rio De Janeiro were more helpful and thoughtful. He says that while their lifestyles are filled with poverty and crime, they would take the time to guide a blind person, or pick up a stranger’s dropped pen.
Then it seems there is a quantum leap as the author builds his conclusive house on the sands of speculation. He says, and I quote, “If the attack had occurred in poor crime-ridden Rio De Janeiro, the outcome might have been different.” While that’s true, the outcome may have also been different if the murder had occured in L.A.
As I see it, this has less to do with environment, and more to do with the personal responsibility which is taught in scripture. Here is a verse which seems at first glance to be unrelated, but is actually quite relevant.
One day Jesus said, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12)
Jesus wasn’t condoning random acts of physical violence. He was speaking about it in a spiritual or metaphorical sense. You can see this by looking at another scripture, which is found in John 6:63. (KJV)
“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
When we view Christ’s use of violence in this context, we can now understand that He spoke from a spiritual perspective.
Think with me about the parable of the Good Samaritan in this light. If you remember, this parable has three main characters, and as we stop and look at them, I hope you will let them challenge you as they have me.
The first to spot the beaten man on the road are the priest and Levite, the religious professionals of their day. These men thought they were more spiritual than anyone else, and that they had it all together.
Does that sound like you and me? Do we get so busy doing good things that we overlook what is really important from God’s point of view?
Fortunately, the Good Samaritan stopped his journey to help the critically injured man to rest and grow healthy again. To me, the samaritan speaks of the violent or aggressive service which Jesus modeled.
Remember when He washed the disciples’ feet? We are called to figuratively do the same thing. But are we sensitive to the needs of others, or to the opportunities that come our way? Are we willing to pay the price?
Violent or aggressive prayer is also the oil of service, so I would like to conclude with a few remarks. Scripture tells us to come boldly before God’s throne, so why are we so timid? We need more than ever to pray for unity in the body of Christ, and among our national leaders. Also, we need to really listen as we ask for God’s direction in our daily lives.
Today Christ is calling you and me to a poverty of spirit. We are meant to realize that we are bankrupt as we walk before Him, while at the same time experiencing His riches in a deeper way.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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