Monday, April 16, 2007

Depravity and The Violence Among Us

The tragic massacre at Virginia Tech punctuates in a most definitive manner the increasing atmosphere of violence that plagues our nation. Not only are we at war overseas, but we are at war amongst ourselves, fighting for the security of our children on our own shores, with casualty rates that continue to mount year after year.

My first exposure to a high profile, news-stopping murder case was as a Grade School Student at Fort Bragg, NC. The ruthless murder of the family of Green Beret Doctor Jeffrey MacDonald shook all who lived at "The Home of the Airborne" - a tight military community that just couldn't believe such a tragedy could happen on our turf. It was especially shocking because then, as now, we were a nation at war and this unbelievable event was so vicious that it temporarily eclipsed the dominant news of the Vietnam War. At first, it was thought that a band of thugs has committed the crime. This belief put everyone on edge and made our walks to school seem more like military marches with everyone forced to walk in large groups with an escort of Paratroopers between designated rallying points and school. Our parents, trained in the use of weapons, all purchased personal weapons, determined that no wandering band of marauders would catch them unawares. No one could believe it when the discovery was made that Dr. Mac Donald himself, a Green Beret sworn to free the oppressed, had violated the trust of his own family in the worst way, murdering them in their own home. The question plagued us all, "How could someone who seemed to have everything going for him - a great career, a beautiful family and a wonderful and supportive community - do something that so violated everything he and the community stood for?" It seemed that peace was elusive not only abroad, but at home as well.

So here we are, more than 30 years later, and we awaken once again to the horrible scene of violence at home. Emergency vehicles everywhere, a shocking scenario unfolding and at the end of it all, the big questions loom on every one's mind - Why?
How could this happen in such a peaceful. low key, All American setting? We expect this in a combat zone and we half expect it in the "Big City", but Hometown USA? How could it happen there? In spite of the fact that we have more freedom, more comfort, more knowledge, more recreation, and more luxury than any society that ever lived, the "Good Ole USA" is among the most homicidal developed nations on the face of the earth. Where is this violence coming from?

Jesus describes the time of the end as a time much like the "Days of Noah"! Genesis describes those days as "filled with violence." In fact, Genesis tells us that violence and depravity [were] everywhere. The word, "depravity" particularly stands out. Depravity describes a human state of being that does not submit to or consider God and His requirements. It is a word that highlights a human tendency to ignore God in our dealings with a result that is never positive and at it's worst, is perverse, destructive, chaotic and ultimately deadly. I believe it is especially telling that these tragedies aren't confined to our "worst" communities, but occur in some the safest places we know - A Military Post, A patriotic Texas Town, A secure Colorado Suburb, a simple and peace loving Amish Community and an All-American Virginia College Campus. Each event is a stark reminder that depravity is universal and that evil is crouching at the door just as it was at the beginning when Cain's murder of Able shattered the security of the very first family.

This Eviland Depravity with which we contend each day can only be held at bay by the Overcoming Power of Jesus Christ which is available to anyone who is willing to surrender themselves to His loving care. Knowing Jesus doesn't mean that one will be spared from the fall out of Evil, but it offers assurance that peace can be enjoyed in the most tumultuous of circumstances. This peace is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he declared "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." We can endure anything thrown at us good, bad or painfully tragic when we realize that Christ is with us to comfort us and guide us through every storm, even should we die in its raging. This confidence is what we call faith - not a blind faith that is based on wishful thinking, but a faith based on the reality of Jesus' own resurrection and the certain hope of ultimate victory that is ours if we don't faint.

Therefore, don't be surprised by the constant parade of tragedies - such is a world plagued by depravity. Rather seize the hope that is available from the one who left us with these words, "In this world you have tribulation, but be of good cheer - I have overcome the World!" Until next time,


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