What does the recent incidents in Ferguson, New York City and Cleveland tell us about our violent culture?
[Darris McNeely] America has been absorbed in recent weeks – actually, since last summer – with the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where unfortunately, a robbery took place, a young man was apprehended and shot by a policeman. The robber was black, the policeman was white. And of course, that has played out for several months in our national press and our national culture, debates, discussions, endless cycles of news, especially as that's been covered and it was a very terrible situation. There's been another couple of situations that have also been in the news, where another individual in New York City was apprehended and in process of arresting him, he died because of the handling by the New York City police. And there was another case in Cleveland, Ohio, where a twelve-year-old boy was reported to be brandishing what appeared to be a gun – turned out, I believe to be a toy gun, but he was shot down by police who responded to the scene. All tragic situations, all have been heightened because of race, because of the nature of the police and the situations they have to respond to, also because of our – just some of the deep divisions in our country, especially over the matter of race. And I know that everyone has various views and to look at the facts in each of these situations. There are three different situations; there are many others that take place in the United States that are not even reported on. These three have kind of risen to the top in recent weeks and have highlighted a number of issues that are debated, discussed, and highlight, as I said, the divides in our society, some of the problems that we have, and form a lot of discussion.
You know, I think we all recognize, as one person put it, that the police are certainly part of our fabric of our culture and our society. They do maintain law and order in all parts, in all neighborhoods. One personality said that the police are our friends – he was black, he was talking about how black people have benefited from that and certainly that is true. There are abuses on all sides of these particular issues – that's not the point, necessarily that I think I want us to focus on here, from the point of view that we might have here on Beyond Today. I think one thing that we need to understand and we should discuss honestly and openly is that we do have a very violent society. One of the reasons that police do respond the way they do in various places and situations is because in America we have a very open, legal gun culture. They respond – when police respond they, in many cases, automatically assume that there could be a gun or another type of weapon there, that put their lives in danger. And people can carry weapons, legally carry weapons. There are all types of acts of violence that take place that we never hear about because of the culture that we have, which at its heart, in many ways, quite frankly, is violent. This is documented. Police respond to that. A culture and a people respond to that, as well, and it ratchets up debate, emotions, and sometimes a lack of logic. Our logic should be founded in Scripture.
As I've been watching all of the news coverage, listening to all the debate, what has gone on in my mind – one scripture that I thought about from the Bible is in Isaiah chapter 1, that talks about, as God talks to a people, and I think it has its application to our situation that we're talking about here today, and to American culture and other parts of western culture today. But God says in Isaiah 1:12 – He's talking to His people, and the culture that they had then, but it mirrors in many ways the culture we have now. In verse 12 He says, "When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand?" God is talking to the people – "You approach Me, you call out in My name, you come to Me" – and He goes on to discuss how their form of worship, their religion, is pretty far from what God intended, what He gave to them, and that has separated the people, Israel, from Him (Isaiah 1:12-14). He says in verse 15, "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you" – He wasn't hearing them. It raises the question, is God really hearing us today, when we might call out to Him or when we go about our business? How does God look upon us? He says, "Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear." It's a pretty hard statement from God. A lot of us don't perhaps want to think about a God who says, "I won't hear you when you spread out your hands to Me." But here's why – at the end of verse 15 He says, "Your hands are full of blood" (Isaiah 1:15). Your hands are full of blood. Their culture was pretty violent. Bloody hands. Is our culture pretty violent today?
You know, I went to see the movie that we reviewed recently called Exodus, and I had to sit through about twenty minutes of previews, which is what you do when you go to a movie today, but some of the previews I'd also seen on my television set at home when I was getting ready to watch certain programs, dealing with video games that dealt with demonism, overt violence, warfare, appealing to a very young crowd. These are being advertised in the movie theater and also on my television set. I could go on down the list and talk about the instances of our popular culture that are just filled with violence that's not necessary today – except to look at what the scripture says, and God says, "Your hands are full of blood." Could it be that God's talking about our culture today? Could it be that what we are having to wallow through with Ferguson and New York City, Cleveland, Ohio, and other places where violence erupts, regardless of what happens or who's right or wrong, or what all the facts might be – are we not seeing a culture that is full of violence that mirrors what God says here of His people – "Your hands are full of blood"? Because our streets, our culture, our habits, our minds, are full of violence and blood, we are not able to come to some solutions that can restore peace, tranquility, and harmony, and most importantly, a right relationship with God.
It's something to think about as we look at our news headlines and the issues that occupy our time. Sometimes we just want to hide from it, but eventually we have to come back around and ask some very hard questions. The answers are from the Bible through the questions that God asks and tells us about. Something to think about.
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