HOPE—In the Face of Anger and Violence
Psalm 7:1,6-17 “Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me… 6 Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the RAGE of my enemies. Awake, [“WOKE” = Slang word for Awareness of injustice & Action] my God; decree justice… 9 Bring to an end the VIOLENCEof the wicked and make the righteous secure—you, the righteous Godwho probes minds and hearts. [God knows all of our thoughts and feelings. The problem that we people have is that we think that we are know what we think. WOKE] David gives us a divinely inspired great prayer: “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.” -Psalm 26:2 10 My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart. [Always hope in God as your protector and shield.] 11 God is a righteous judge… [Always remember that God is in control. Right will always come out in the end.] 15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. [You will get what you have coming to you. the chickens will come home to roost. What goes around, comes around.] 16 The trouble they cause recoils on them; their VIOLENCE comes down on their own heads. 17 I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.” Dictionary Definition… “VIOLENCE” = Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. That definition is OK, but from my biblical perspective, just OK. It does not however, go deep enough into the destruction that Satan has in mind by utilizing violence. My definition goes deeper. What do you think about it? “VIOLENCE” = Behavior that intends to CHANGE things or people. It involves hurt, damage or destruction of people or things in order for someone to “get their own way.” It does not have to be limited to physical force. In fact, it seems to me that most violence is not physical. Physical violence is what makes the news more often than other forms of violence because of the dramatic nature of it. This is where the rhyme we learned as a kid comes in. It is a wrong rhyme. It is incorrect. It is incomplete. And when it is thought through, most do not believe it to be true. Here it is. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” From my experience, most physical damage heals. Need I say more? Well, I’ll say it anyway. From my experience, most nonphysical damage takes a long time to heal, if it ever completely heals at all. Remember that… “VIOLENCE” = Behavior that intends to CHANGE things or people. It involves hurt, damage or destruction of people or things in order for someone to “get their own way.” Remember that … It does not have to be limited to physical force. Here are Some Different Kinds of Violence: [R.E.P.S] Relational Violence, Emotional Violence. Physical Violence Spiritual Violence, EVERYONE EXPERIENCES VIOLENCE (Directly & Indirectly) To one degree or another, everyone has been confronted with “violence”. We all face it both directly and indirectly. When it is DIRECT, it is aimed primarily at us. Ie. This is usually very easy to recognize when it is happening because we see it, hear it, or feel it. When it is INDIRECT, even though it is aimed at another person, we can feel the effects of it. Ie. An example of this would be when we feel like saying to someone, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size.” Even though we are not the one being picked on, we are defending the person who is. Often because “that person” has been us, at one time or another. In various ways, we feel the pain and injustice that others experience. MATURITY RECOGNIZES VIOLENCE OF ALL KINDS Through the process of maturing in our Christian faith, we shouldn’t be surprised that we increasingly feel the effects of violence both directly and indirectly. The more mature that we become, the more aware we will be of the injustice and violence caused by Satan - towards ourselves personally, as well as towards others. To understand how it all works, let’s go back to the first references to conflict and violence in the Bible, keeping in mind that through it all, God always remains loving. WHEN VIOLENCE FIRST BEGAN Evaluated on these four: [Relationally, Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually] VIOLENCE BY SATAN 1. Satan’s Violence Towards God Satan murdered the perfect relationship that he had with God. [Relationally, Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually] Note the five sinful attitudes that Satan demonstrated in Isaiah 14:12-15 below. “How you [Reference to Satan] have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!13 You said in your heart, [His attitude] ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. 2. Satan’s Violence Towards the Angels who eventually followed him (They were taken over by his Deception and Ambition) [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual] 3. Satan’s Violence Towards Adam & Eve [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual] VIOLENCE BY ADAM (Note that whenever you are in a relationship with someone else, what you do to them, you are really doing to yourself to one degree or another.) 1. Towards Himself Whether we realize it or not, whenever we sin we will not feel good about ourselves. [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual] 2. Towards God He turned his eyes away from God and hid. This kind of relational violence could be called rejection. [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual] 3. Towards Eve [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual] VIOLENCE BY CAIN 1. Towards his brother Abel He murdered him. [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual] “Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” -Genesis 4:8 2. Towards his mom and dad (Adam & Eve) [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual] 3. Towards God He is sarcastic to God. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” -Genesis 4:9 [Relational, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual]
Genesis 4 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” [Hebrew = “I have gotten a man, the Lord”. She thought that Cain was the promised seed of Genesis 3:15 that would crush the head of Satan while Satan would bruise his heal.] 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. [Note the importance that is placed on Cain. Because Eve had such high hopes and expectations as to who Cain was, namely the Messiah, her second child is not referred to as her child but rather, “His brother Abel”. – “His” meaning Cain]. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time [Anger & Violence don’t just come out of nowhere. There is usually history and experience behind it. Remember that the resentment and hate of Joseph’s brothers towards him grew as they all got older.] CAIN brought SOME of the fruit of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And ABEL also brought an offering— fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. [The best, the firstfruits, the “Cream of the crop”] The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 BUT on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So CAIN was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “WHY are you angry? WHY is your face downcast? 7 IF [it is conditional. It depends on us. We have responsibility.] you do what is right, will you not be accepted? [God is saying a lot here. First of all, God is reminding Cain that he did not always have feelings of being rejected by God. God did not reject Cain, he rejected his inferior offering. Cain did not offer God the best of his farm harvest. Then God makes the point that the question is asked in such a way as to make a statement. God is really saying something like, “You do know that you will be accepted if you do what is right, right?”] But if you do not do what is right, SIN is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, BUT you must rule over it.” [But without God, we may not be able to.] 8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” [Ironic that he is worried about Physical Violence when he just murdered his brother.] 15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain [A Boundary of “Grace”] so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” I think that it is fair to say that “Violence” is never an answer, unless:
It is in the “Physical” realm
Only done in self-defense
Only as a last resort.
Remember that Violence by others intends to CHANGE things or people through hurt, damage or destruction in order to “get their own way.” The difference between a peaceful protest and a violent protest is the fact that violent protesters believe that “Change” will take place only through the use of Physical Violence. They believe that: “The ends justifies the means.” [The “Ends” being the change that they want.] But Jesus warned against that when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter cut off Malchus’ ear. “Put your sword back in its place… for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” -Matthew 26:52 Those who live by the sword, die by the sword” is a basic principle. Some people will have to learn the lesson the hard way. Those who THINK that violence has been successful in accomplishing change, haven’t counted the “length” and the “depth” of the cost. The length-cost, or the long-term cost usually comes in the form of “backfire.” And the depth-cost may come in the form of personal damage, emotionally, relationally, physically and spiritually. “Sticks and stones really do break bones.” And they break relationships, diminish faith, and often take a physical and emotional toll as well. It took 125 years, but the infamous feud between the Hatfields and McCoys finally ended; sixty descendants of the original clans gathered on Saturday, June 14, 2003, in Pikefield, Kentucky, to sign a document declaring an official END to 125 years of hatred and bloodshed. Most think the feuding between the McCoys of Kentucky and Hatfields of West Virginia began in 1878 when Randolph McCoy accused one of the Hatfields of stealing a hog. The Hatfields won the "hog war'' when a McCoy cousin sided with the opposing clan. Feelings festered and other incidents occurred that finally resulted in the shooting death of Ellison Hatfield in 1882. Retaliation begat retaliation until the feud claimed 11 more family members over the next ten years. Subsequent conflicts between the two clans have involved court battles over everything from timber rights to cemetery plots. The treaty calling for peace reads: "We do hereby and formally declare an official end to all hostilities implied, inferred, and real, between the families now and forevermore. We ask by God's grace and love that we be forever remembered as those that bound together the hearts of two families to form a family of freedom in America." IN YOUR ANGER DO NOT SIN Ephesians 4:22-32 “…put OFF your old self, [Suppress it. Don’t put it on. Don’t let it out. Keep it under control. Don ‘t stir it up.] which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put ON the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. [Express it. Put it on. Let it out. Let it control you.] 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. [We are all in the same boat… Tossed about in the same storm.] 26 “In your ANGER do not sin”: [It is natural to be angry. The Bible says that God gets angry. He gets angry at sin, yet he never sins. He manages his anger. And he will help us to manage ours as well.] Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, [Don ‘t let it fester. Deal with it before sleeping, or at least have a plan to deal with it if it is really late and you are falling asleep. Remember that when you sleep, you dream. You dream about what you think about. Therefore, you will be dealing with your anger even though you are asleep. It is more healthy for you conscious mind to deal with your anger than your subconscious mind which you have no control over.] 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. [He loves using anger.] 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. [Anger tears down. Love builds up] 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” [I wonder how much anger is in the world because of the lack of kindness, compassion, and lack of forgiveness. I wonder how much anger is expressed through violence.] Regardless of how much you are experiencing right now, have hope. God will give you the strength to stand firm and have hope, even in the presence of anger and violence. “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” -Romans 12:17-21 “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” [God FEELS your pain] -Psalm 7:11 [And he HEARS your pain] “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. BUT the face of the Lord is against those who do evil… But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled.” - 1 Peter 3:12-14 [Have Hope] Of course the greatest HOPE that we have is God’s Grace… Forgiveness… Knowing that we are SO LOVED that Jesus took VIOENCE on our behalf. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. [Forgiven] All we like sheep have gone astray… and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all… Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt,” -Isaiah 53:4-6,10 “Curious” not “Furious” “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverb s 15:1 Have Hope that God will use the violence that he allows for HIS purposes. “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…”. – Isaiah 46:10 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” -2 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil… but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” -1 Peter 3:9 “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” -James 1:19 This is how we can have HOPE -In the Face of Anger and Violence Prayer Lord, thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for not holding my sins against me. Give me your understanding, your patience, and your grace, and your strength to: “Be Jesus to others, as you are always Jesus to me” even in the presence of anger and violence. In Jesus’ name. Amen!
Pastor Dave Word of Life Church 17525 W. Bell Rd. Surprise, AZ 85374