I’m not sure where you stand on the whole Ferguson–Baltimore protests and the destructive way they degenerated into acts of vandalism and violence.
On one hand I am sympathetic to those who have had enough. The subsequent investigation of the Ferguson incident by the Justice Department uncovered a history of injustice that fueled over-reaction by the mob. For the most part (I’m straying into opinion here), the violence was ignited by agitators who never had the best interest of those communities at heart. They were opportunist and thugs. The situation merely provided them an opportunity to loot, burn and destroy. Sadly, good people with valid grievances, got swept up in the emotion and joined in the destruction of the very community they loved.
The community was destroyed by people who considered it expendable to achieve their agenda. They have moved on, leaving others to rebuild and restore what they destroyed. The victims were victimized all over again.
Christians can get swept up in the same destructive behavior. The Bible is mostly the story of what God has done for sinners through His only Son, Jesus. He so loved the world that He sacrificed His beloved Son to redeem it from sin, death and the power of the devil. But God also cares about the quality of this life and the Bible contains pages and pages of advice on practical matters of life.
We recently taught a series on the Genius of Gratitude. I loved that series! It revealed how God has designed gratitude as a means of blessing those who understand and practice that value. It is genius and miraculous! The same Lord who teaches His children the power of positive behavior to their benefit, the benefit of others, and to God’s glory; also cautions against destructive behaviors that destroy us, the lives of others, and bring dishonor to the Lord. In James chapter three He says;
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
The tongue is a small thing but has great power to destroy. I have seen it destroy marriages, families, businesses, churches, schools and friendships. Grievances are real. People can honestly disagree with one another. The Bible speaks about the wisdom that is found in the free exchange of different opinions. But there are good ways and there are destructive ways to protest. If we end up destroying the community we love, we are no better than the agitators that tragically destroyed the neighborhoods, businesses, and communities of Ferguson and Baltimore.
No one is completely innocent. We gravitate to 24 hour news channels like flies to sugar water. News stations from across America and around the world, send reporters, camera crews, and satellite trucks to cover the riots and capture the images. It frustrates them when curfews are honored and the crowds behavior in an orderly fashion. Why? Why would businesses-for-profit like MSNBC, FOX NEWS, CNN, and even local media outlets send reporters to cover such negative human behavior? Because people watch. We are drawn to sinful destructive behavior like moths to a flame, and like the moth, our fascination puts us in danger. We run the risk of self-destruction.
The same is true about the gossip, innuendo and character assassination that occurs in our own families, friendships, churches, schools, and businesses. It would have no power if we refused to pay attention, or better yet, challenged the the destructive behavior. We all admired the mom who dragged her son away from the riot. We should stop admiring her and start acting like her. We will never measure the impact of her influence on all the other moms and families in Baltimore, but clearly the day after that video went viral, there were fewer young people on the street and less violence to report. The reporters, the media, and focus of America would move on to better things if we stopped glorifying the violence. It is interesting that some in Ferguson felt Baltimore was “stealing their rightful place in the spotlight,” and made a weak attempt to reignite the protests when the media moved out.
No one questions the right to protest. It’s important for leaders to listen to those with valid concerns. Leaders and protestors both benefit from the sharing of factual information. There are appropriate ways to share concerns. Burning down the community is not one of them. Protestors lose all credibility when they destroy the thing they claim to love.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6–9
- What’s God suggested cure for anxiety?
- Is this just positive thinking or more than that?
- What’s the best way to level a complaint against God. Consider Psalm 13.
When it comes to destructive gossip I:
A. Have no time for it.
B. Must admit I pay more attention than I should.
C. I think gossip is good and makes the world go round.
Click here to take the survey and please leave a comment to explain your point of view.
If you were unable to attend services last weekend and would like to listen to the message, visit our homepage at stjstl.net and click on Media at the top right of the web page. Growing Deeper, a Bible study, written to accompany the message series is also available to download.
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Increase my faith. Grant me wisdom. Help me every day to become more and more like You, Lord. I am failed, flawed and embarrassed often by my own sinful behavior I know that You know. I know that You love me no more when I get it right and no less when I get it wrong. Thank You, Lord for the consistency of Your faithfulness. Help me to become like You in my community. Amen
Where does the time go? If you’re in 3rd grade, next month’s Friday Frenzie is a SNEAK PEEK at all the fun in store for you next year. 4th graders, you need to be here, too! See you all on Friday, May 15 at 7pm. $5 at the door!
Children's Ministry Sneak Peek
Children in grades 1 through 5, who attend Children’s Ministry will visit their new classroom/grade level on May 10. You will still drop them off and pick them up in their current classroom. During the service time, we will take them to get a sneak peek of their new classroom, leaders, and programming to help orient them. Parents are welcome to stay if they like to help ease this transition. Kids in early childhood will be moving up in August. Questions, contact Lisa at 636.779.2376 or
Stephen Hower, Pastor
Challenging the status quo to awaken an appreciation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:13,14 (and to lower my golf score)
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