Prayer, love and forgiveness, not violence | Faith | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | July 9, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: July 5, 2017 at 11:24 am
Often in our community, there is a resurgence of violence on a full scale. Things will calm down for a while, and then they will reoccur, full-blown.
“Violence is defined as ‘physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing,’ and sadly, violence is a part of everyday life. It is in our movies and television shows, and we live in a world where power is often established through violence. But for Christians, the way of the world is always [upstaged] by the truth of the Word” (Got Questions.org).
An insightful principle regarding the moral incorrectness of violence is found in Genesis 9:5-6 (ESV): “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.’”
“Most importantly, this biblical account links to the fundamental reality that violence against human beings is wrong because human beings were made in the image and likeness of God. There is a worth, a value, a dignity, to every human life, in other words, that makes selfish or wanton violence a moral offense,” (Mel Lawrenz).
The bottom line is that God does not intend for us to settle our differences through violence. We must pray earnestly, love one another as Christ has loved us, and forgive others just as we want to be forgiven.
Therefore, God said in Romans 12:19 (ESV), “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”
Colleton County is not a large place compared to many other places in the country, but a lot of violence goes on here, and it seems to heat up more during the summer months. Many are left wondering, “What is the problem?” Why are our youth and some young adults so angry with each other? No one wants to talk it out or let the situation cool before resorting to violence.
Wherever there are two or more persons, conflict is inevitable. However, that conflict does not have to turn in to an ugly situation of sadness and regret. Back to the question, “What is the problem?” What are the causes of violence in our society?
According to an interview, conducted by the National Campaign to Stop Violence, among youth in the some of the nation’s most violent neighborhoods, the youth said in the order listed that these are the top ten causes: 1. The Media; 2. Substance Abuse; 3. Gangs; 4. Unemployment; 5. Weapons; 6. Poverty; 7. Peer Pressure; 8. Broken Homes; 9. Poor Family Environment/Bad Neighborhoods; and 10. Intolerance/Ignorance
Then as Christians, what do we need to do to help alleviate this violence? It is never going to be totally eradicated until Christ returns for His people, but what do we do to lessen the problem? At a Chicago Community Forum, those who participated came to the conclusion that the church can do the following to help curb violence in our communities: 1. Open the Sanctuary. 2. Be a learning congregation. 3. Follow the Spirit. 4. Show up, be present, and be humble. 5. Name the culture of violence. 6. Look for leaders in unexpected places. 7. Engage politics across the aisles.
Though these are great and workable suggestions, there are three components that must be included and taught within each one: prayer, love and forgiveness.
Colleton County, we must be a united force as one in order to help curb the violence. If someone were to break into my house, it is not just my house; it must be OUR house.
Can you imagine what could happen in this community to alleviate violence on all scales if we were to come together on common ground? You can be mighty in a mission alone, but you are mightier when others join in your cause.
Violence is not the answer in solving provocation; it is only through prayer, love and forgiveness that we can begin to get a handle on this growing problem.
Fellow Christians, I leave you with a question this week. Ask yourself, “Am I helping to lessen the violence in my community, or am I guilty of saying, ‘That is their problem, not mine?’”
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)