A Culture of Violence / by Glenn Meldrum
What a hypocritical nation America has become. We have developed a culture that loves violence while simultaneously condemning it. Violence permeates the very fabric of our nation and the entertainment industry is one of its primary propagators. What hypocrisy! The celebrities that act out the violence Americans are obsessed with often claim to be proponents of nonviolence. What about the citizenry itself? Though they may state with political correctness that violence is wrong, they have, so to speak, an umbilical cord attached to the secular media that feeds them the violence and moral decadence they crave. If we did not love violence then the entertainment industry would not be producing such evil.
This fallen world is an incubator of rebellion against the Lord and His kingdom. We have created a spiritual and moral environment that has caused us to grow numb to the culture of violence we made. Yes, this includes the church. Christians must shoulder the greater guilt in creating this problem because we should be the guardians of truth and biblical morality. To our shame, we have become proponents of evil. A vast number of Christians support the culture of violence with their time and money. Just look in the average self-proclaimed Christian’s video cabinet, examine their cable bill, peruse their video games or search their computer’s history for the internet porn they watch. It will not take long to find just a few ways that supposedly “good” people actively advance evil.
The news media loves to exploit acts of violence for their own profit and we Americans just love to be exploited. In those cases of violence that the media uses to capture the attention of the nation our consciences may be awakened to a small degree. These news blitzes excite the feeble sympathies of our hearts or may enrage our thoughts to some kind of anemic response. Yet a few days after the tragedy we once again fall asleep to the evils we have breed of our own free will. Of course, we foolishly trust that our elected officials will run with the political tide created by the most recent media feeding frenzy. Out of self-love and self-preservation these mercenary politicians pass laws in the heat of the moment that, more often than not, do more harm than good.
The culture of violence in which we find ourselves today had its origin in Adam’s sin. In the Garden of Eden violence was nonexistent. Scripture records that the first act of violence was the sacrifice Adam and Eve offered up to God as atonement for their sin (Genesis 3:21). From that point on violence became an integral part of this fallen world. Every act of violence this world has ever known or will experience is the consequence of Adam and Eve’s deliberate act of rebellion against God. What they set in motion we now continue through our own conscious acts of breaking God commands. The wages of sin always produces death and separation from God (Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23).
The violence that mankind perpetrates one upon one another is inspired by hell. At times, the evil people inflict upon others is so heinous that our minds cannot fathom the horror nor words express the depths of their malevolence. It seems like devils inspired with hellish hatred motivate weak people to abuse, mutilate and ruin the very creatures God created His own image.
Through the authority of Scripture we can say that mankind created violence, not God. However, in our present situation the Lord uses violence to advance His kingdom. Now please do not misunderstand me here. The violence God uses is diametrically opposed to that which came through the Adam’s rebellion. Terrorism, murder, natural war and all the other expressions of violence and hatred are not part of God’s kingdom.
Jesus taught the correct means by which violence is used to advance the Kingdom of Heaven, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (NKJV; Mt. 11:12). The violence the Savior refers to incorporates two ideas. First, it speaks of people entering Christ’s kingdom. The Lord relentlessly labors to bring people to the place where they comprehend their desperate need of salvation and are willing to flee into Christ’s loving embrace. When they reach that imperative condition to salvation they will violently (forcefully) strive to enter the kingdom of God at any cost. The Lord, through His infinitely astounding abilities, uses the evil we created, practice and promote to drive us to Himself. The greatest example of this is demonstrated when God, who did not create violence, allowed the most horrendous act of violence to be preformed against Himself—crucifixion. Why did He allow this? So that mankind could be saved from the eternal violence of hell.
The second way that the Lord uses violence to advance His kingdom deals with the way true disciples are called to aggressively expand the Kingdom of God. This is accomplished in the same manner that Jesus advanced the Kingdom of God when He walked this earth, through the laying down of His life. Let me use a story Duncan Campbell told about a soldier during WWI to illustrate this point. During an attack at Passchendaele Ridge, Belgium, Campbell stated, “I saw on my right a young 42nd Highlander. He was wounded in his arm and trying to tear the tail of his shirt to bind it. Another soldier in front of us lay wounded beckoning for help. I heard that 42nd Highlander say, ‘I’m sure that’s Jock!’ I saw him spring to his feet with that wounded arm lying beside him as he climbed out of the trench saying, ‘Yes, that’s poor Jock and I’ll save him or die in the attempt.’” In like manner, through the love of God we are to lay siege to people, families, communities and nations until we see them saved or die in the attempt to rescue them. That is what Jesus was talking about—aggressive, loving evangelism.
There is a violence ordained of God. Not the heartless brutality that flows out of hell through susceptible humans, but that which our Lord and Master modeled. This is a high calling, the obligation placed upon the shoulders of every true believer to be like Jesus in both life and death. What does this privilege of infinitesimal value include, even demand? That out of love for Christ we lay down our wealth, reputations, comforts and lives for His glory and the salvation of the lost.
Walter Henley, a former White House staff member that turned pastor said it this way: “Militant love is life attacking death, light coming against darkness, truth colliding with lies. . . . Militant Islam, for example, may call for the death of the ‘infidel,’ and may issue death warrants against its enemies, but Jesus of Nazareth will not allow His followers to call down the fire . . . His militant love will minister healing, deliverance and hope. Jesus shows that militant love does not inflict suffering on others, but is willing to receive it on itself for the sake of others. Militant love does not nail its enemies to the cross, but goes to the cross on behalf of the enemy. . . . Militant love does aggressive acts of kindness towards those who would cause it hurt. It washes the feet of those who would betray it.”
True love demands that we respond to the desperate needs of others that are within our ability to meet. How can we say we love family, friends and community while remaining indifferent to the reality that the majority of people we know are rushing to a literal hell? How can we say we are part of a kingdom whose Lord and King was crucified so we could be saved and be senseless about the multitudes of perishing immortal souls? And how can we live in the selfish pursuit of pleasure while hell grows larger by the second? The existence of hell demands our response.
Violence rages around us, incessant and unmerciful. We cannot get away from it. Try to run if you will, but the violence of hell will only pursue you. Either stand and fight or cower and hide. To the one is a victor’s crown, to the other shame and disgrace. But if you think that you can act like the proverbial ostrich that sticks its head in the sand know that the vicious predators of hell which are seeking to devour your mother and father, children and siblings, friends and acquaintances are also coming after you. This moment, this day and age demands that God’s people respond to the violence of hell with the good, holy and compassionate violence of God’s love operating through His genuine followers even if it costs us our reputations, comforts, wealth or lives.
Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.