Why Don’t YOU “Stop The Violence”?

Neal Pollard

To borrow the words of our own Mike Bennett, “Excuse me?”  An AP story published this morning is so thick with irony it is palpable!  Two people were arrested and put in jail on Tuesday in Washington, Pennsylvania.  They were two community organizers “with a local Stop the Violence group” and they “severely beat a former roommate with whom they had a property dispute” (via FoxNews.com).  They “allegedly jumped the man as he was walking down the street on Tuesday. Police say the defendants kicked the victim as he was unconscious…” causing injuries too gruesome for me to describe here.  The female defendant “was still wearing the same ‘Stop the Violence’ T-shirt that she had on the night before when she led a march in the city protesting two recent shootings” (ibid.).  “The victim remains in critical condition” (ibid.).

Could there be a clearer example of hypocrisy from the world?  We have seen or heard of the environmentalist driving the gas-guzzling SUV and the televangelist having an adulterous affair, but the peace protestor beating up somebody?  That’s very unattractive!

It is also a reminder to us as Christians about practicing “true religion…unstained by the world” (Jas. 1:27).  Not only are we ineffective, we are counterproductive when we claim to wear the name of Christ and then defame it by our words and deeds.  What about mouths praising God in worship on Sunday profaning man at work on Monday?  What about hands shaking hands or embracing fellow Christians one day then typing in ungodly websites or texting someone not our spouse in sexually suggestive ways the next?  What about words of kindness to each other when we meet followed up by slandering speech about each other or those in the world when we are away from the assemblies?

The Bible warns against hypocrisy, saying “beware of it” (Luke 12:1), “let love be without it” (Rom. 12:9), “don’t be carried away by it” (Gal. 2:13), “eliminate it” (Jas. 3:17), and “put it aside” (1 Pet. 2:1).  It’s easy to see why.  Few things are more repelling and disgusting than to witness hypocrisy.  Let us consider that as we conduct our own lives before the watchful eyes of the world!

DEADLY DISPUTE

Neal Pollard

A few years ago fifty miles southeast of Indianapolis in Andersonville, Indiana, two neighbors were found dead of gunshot wounds.  The bizarre finding of police investigators is that they fatally shot each other.  Indiana State Police Sargeant Noel Houze Jr. explained, “They just shot each other in an exchange of gunfire and both of them died of fatal gunshot wounds.”  She was 29 and he was 64.  They knew each other, but no one has come forward with any details about motives or explanations.

The imagination runs wild, though facts do not follow behind it.  What makes two neighbors mad enough to draw guns and engage in a gun battle?  What could be serious enough to escalate a dispute to this level (AP wire, 8/17/07)?

Conflict is an inevitable part of human relationships.  Normally, the better we know someone the more likely disputes will be and the more heated or passionate they can become.  The hope is that civility and courtesy can prevent hostility and homicide!

Luke records a dispute among the apostles, that “an argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest” (Lk. 9:46).  The same Greek word translated “argument” in that passage Jesus  modifies with an adjective to teach that “…from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries…and defile the man” (Mk. 7:21,23b).   Arndt and Gingrich, since this noun is used, suggest that the idea is stronger than merely bad thoughts, but “evil machinations” (186a).  Thus, schemes and plots that begin in the heart, that are fed, nursed and stoked, can play out in all the ways Jesus enumerates in Mark seven.

From these two passages come a warning about two areas of life–motives and heart.  A bad motive and evil heart open the door which allows conflict to escalate and grow.  These conflicts may not end in shotgun blasts, but estrangement, divorce, isolation, division, or character assassination.  In trying to deal a hurtful blow to our opponent, we may find ourselves mortally wounded, too.   What a needed reminder to guard our hearts, watch our motives, and control ourselves!