RECLAIMING OUR COMMUNITY: RESPONDING TO THE RECENT CRIME SPREE
The recent string of crime in our community has left many in shock and fear. People are looking over their shoulders, women are afraid to step out after dark, and those from outside the area are even reluctant to drive through. This is truly shameful and heartbreaking, not to mention devastating for the economy and progress of our community.
What is the root of our problem? Some blame the society; others blame the system; and still others call it “the signs of the times.” While they all have a point, the real answer was given over a hundred years ago by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. He remarked “When God dies, cultures become weightless.” God’s glory brings radiance and substance to a culture. When God is asked to leave the premises, everything becomes dark and hollow. What we are seeing in our community is just the natural outcome of the godlessness in our culture. The only real answer to our problem today is for God’s glory to return to our culture as oxygen to our lungs.
The place to begin is not by withdrawing and hating our community but by seeing it from a biblical perspective. Social critic Os Guiness wisely noted, “Always and everywhere at once, society is two things: God’s gift to us, and the devil’s gauntlet thrown down before us.” Of the two, the second is much easier to see than the first. No one will argue that our community is under the control of the enemy. With every crime he is trying to bring fear, suspicion, and hate into our community. Every negative remark and every hate-filled post on Facebook plays right into his hands.
But can we see our community as “God’s gift to us”? This will require a radical change in the way we see people. Thanks to the teachings of evolution we tend to see people as hopeless and worthless. Instead, we should see every boy, girl, man, and woman as made in the image of God with a God-shaped vacuum in their heart. Sixteen centuries ago, Augustine the great African pastor wrote in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” Restless people do reckless things. They need Christ, who promised, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
This will also require a radical change in our local churches. Do you find it ironic that we have a church on every street corner and yet we have failed to change the community?! Churches have become holy hideouts rather than rescue stations. We have become a relic of the past, trying to keep the lights on and reminiscing over days gone by. It is time we return to our King’s command to be the “salt and light” to our community. Furthermore, we need male leadership in our churches. Thank God for the women who have carried the burden of spiritual leadership but the church will never be appealing to men (young and old) until they see men worth following. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) Let men take their rightful roles and they will be an incredible threat to the moral and spiritual darkness around us.
Remember – “No man is an island entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for you.” – John Donne