We the enemy
Walt Kelly famously said ” we have met the enemy and he is us”. Few words have been spoken more succinctly and accurately regarding the human condition except by Jesus Himself. We are our own enemies in the classic sense that we are engaged by habit and practice in self destruction. We were not designed this way, rather our original purpose and even our intent may be towards good but were are prepared to do evil.
A reflective look at the Connecticut massacre ought to have us on our knees like Isaiah and cry out to God because we are people of wretched filth in mind, heart and deed before a holy God who has seen His highest creation come undone thru mass murder of innocents. At least the prophet understood the calamity that was about to befall him for even catching a glimpse of pure Goodness in light of the corruptness of his people and himself.
The pundits will all rail against the evils of guns and untreated mental illness, and maybe in the proper light we should and must address these issues as a society. However, serious introspection should tell us immediately that these are mere band-aids . Our situation is far worse than another ban on weapons and the ability of certain members of society to lay their hands on them. Anyone who thinks more unenforceable laws restricting guns are THE answer has not really thought deeply about the causes of violence. As I see it:
1). We have systematically eliminated God from our daily lives. The sacred cow in America is the First Amendment not the first five Books of Moses or the Ten Commandments. We have placed our right to express ourselves in any vile and violent way possible through movies, media and culture. This is sacrosanct, nothing is holier to us…so much so that we have used this very “right” to push God, morality and common decency out of our lives in favor of our freedom. Those few who do not want God in our schools, public squares or legislatures have succeeded in bullying those who do into eliminating Him in favor of their right to be free from any constraint, even bending towards evil.
The Bible tells us that the heart is ” desperately wicked”. If we can accept this diagnosis from God as clinical and terminal then we can turn to Him for treatment, otherwise we can pass more legislation. Jesus tells us that murder among many other human evils come from the heart of men ( Mark 7: 18-23). This is the condition we are in apart from living within His Kingdom and its rule of love. We are all capable of great good but as I said before we have been trained to do evil. True repentance involves a new way of thinking about life. Left to ourselves we have come undone. The apostle Paul warns us ,”And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer He gave them over to a depraved mind to do the things that are not proper….they encourage others to do the same”. (Rom. 1:28-32)
2). We have ceased from producing real goodness as “fruit” being an absolute necessity and modeling it to our children, neighbors and co- workers. The idea that character is something essential to a persons well-being that ought to be a prerequisite for a decent society has been forgotten. Doing good and thereby being able to teach good is no longer a requirement or even a concern. When test scores replace imparting values to our children then we are truly lost and “the blind lead the blind”.
The role of the church here is critical in this effort. If our fellowships are engaged in any endeavor apart from teaching and modeling the life of Jesus we cannot be held blameless for the world or the neighborhood we live in. If we do not love our neighbor we have not earned the right to tell them about the God who loves them. The Apostle Paul says these are the ones who need us precisely because they are lost and without hope. We who know God must tell them about the God of hope at the appropriate time after we have earned the right to speak to them, always in a loving manner, never coercing but ever offering a new life and a new way to think about their lives.
3). Sin is the most damaging force in the universe. Yes I said it. Sin destroys ourselves, families, marriages, incomes and our very way of life. Dallas Willard insightfully states : “sin is designed to destroy the life God has for you.” Instead of learning to master it we have let it crouch at our door individually and collectively. We must honestly look at Sandy Hook elementary and say We did this. One madman is a madman, but an event similar to this happens in our country nearly every week. When do we say enough? When do we admit that we birthed this tragedy with our ideas and our freedoms and our rebellion against God?
We have met the enemy and have invited him to live with us. Occasionally we are outraged at his behavior but since he is us, he is still family and we are not about to be heartless and throw him out. We are comfortable with him. Like a nice warm blanket made of cellophane. True outrage must produce a new way to think about us and our culture. Confessing that we are the problem is a good start. Telling God individually that we are willing, with His help to be the solution Is a giant step in conquering the enemy.