Jesus really is the answer

img-kidnap3 “We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.” And so the three teenage boys did.  A college baseball player shot in the back last week just because he happened to be jogging down a street in….Chicago? New York City? Los Angeles? No. Duncan, Oklahoma. Midwest breadbasket town.

What kind of society produces young people who kill just to pass the time? It’s bad enough that big city hospital ERs are filled beyond capacity with victims of theft, revenge, and hatred. But now boredom? And in a town whose biggest attractions are a Chisholm Trail Heritage Center and a steam locomotive? Well…boredom may be a contributing factor to teen delinquent behavior in Duncan, Oklahoma. But murder?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that none of my children will ever kill someone because they’re bored. Nor because they want their shoes, or the contents of their wallet, or their spouse. And the reason I am so confident of that is not that I’m an outstanding parent. It’s because my children believe in God, and know right from wrong. And they know that not only is God their Master and Judge, but their Father who loves them. Because though they all attended public school, they also attended church, and youth group events, and went on mission trips, and hung out with other believing kids. And heard from their mother the truth that God knows them intimately, loves them unconditionally, and empowers them by his Spirit when they turn to him in faith.

There’s a well-known Christian apologetic that goes like this: If you were walking down a dark alley and see ten men approaching you, would you be more comfortable knowing that they were coming from a Bible study? At face value it’s vulnerable to attack…knowing what the Bible says doesn’t mean you’re going to follow it…so-called Christians have massacred thousands of innocents under the banner of the cross…some of the worst abuses of fellow human beings have come at the hands of those in the Bible belt. But the lesson intended is valid: true, believing Christ-followers will act in love, not hatred. You are more than safe in their presence.

The answer to the problem of violence in America, and around the world, is both simple and complex. People need the Lord. Simple. A community populated by humble servants of the true God would have no need of prisons. Convincing society-at-large of that, and battling the powers of darkness that appear to have the upper hand right now – complex and challenging.

In our nation’s effort to preserve the disentangling of church and state, we have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bath water. Whereas in the days of our founding fathers, religion and morality were seen as indispensable supports, now they are cast aside as encumbering and threatening to civil rights. Though we still (currently) have freedom to worship, and to teach our children the truth of God, faith has been so devalued in the halls of government, in the classroom, and ridiculed and attacked in popular culture, the message that it is ancillary at best and obsolete at worst pervades the home as well. And we are reaping the crumbling damage from the dismantling of those supports.

If those three teens in Oklahoma were true Christ-followers, that young college student would be alive today. No doubt about it. Not just church-attenders or Christian by identification only, but true believers, imbued with the Spirit of God by grace through faith. I don’t mean to imply that true Christians never sin, only that great sins like murder are rare among us.

My point is, if it can be demonstrated that true faith in the true God makes a person kinder, gentler, more loving, and I know that it can, why do we as a society not support and encourage it instead of disregard and disqualify it?

With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.

Psalm 17:4