Living in a Violent World

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[Today’s extra: What does the Bible say about violence?]

Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? 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.” 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 4:5-8

The dark backdrop to reconciliation is the chaotic conflict in all of our relationships—conflict with God, conflict between groups of people, conflict between individuals, even conflict within the natural world. Genesis 3 describes the terrible state of the world, torn apart by the original sin and the ongoing sin of humanity. The world is a place of enmity, alienation, and exploitation.

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In the second generation of humanity, one brother spills the blood of another. Cain murders Abel for a reason that comes right from the heart—jealousy. The pattern is set. Something simple like jealousy left unchecked, left to grow and deepen and intensify, leads to acting out in violence. Jealousy leads to anger, and that sin is predatory, crouching at the door, looking to possess Cain. Violence, in other words, is often the tipping point after resentment turns to rage. What can be done about violence? God told Cain he had better “master” the pathology of his soul. He did not, and blood was spilled.

God’s responds to Cain: “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). And so does the blood of many today.

Violence is a pathology of the soul. It may not begin with standing armies, generational ethnic hatred,or longstanding social inequities, but it dwells there, destroying one life after another.

A bit later in Genesis, a profound principle is laid down regarding the moral wrongness of violence:

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind” (Genesis 9:6).

This is early in the biblical account. It is foundational. Most importantly, it links to the fundamental reality that violence against human beings is wrong because human beings were made in the image and likeness of God. There is a worth, a value, a dignity to every human life that makes selfish or wanton violence a moral offense.

PONDER: How have you seen people violating the dignity of others, even to the point of violence?

* * *

How Violent Is Humanity?

• Violence causes more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year.

• The cost to victims was estimated at more than $500 billion per year.

• U.S. national violence containment costs are over $1.7 trillion (Global Peace Index).

• 35 percent of women worldwide — more than one in three — said they had experienced violence in their lifetime, whether physical, sexual, or both.

• Investing early to prevent conflicts from escalating into violent crises is, on average, 60 times more cost effective than intervening after violence erupts.

• The cost of violence related only to paying for police, justice, and corrections; and the productivity effect of violent crime, homicide, and robbery is $3,257 for each U.S. taxpayer.

• According to the Bureau of Justice, the number of people under some form of correction supervision in the U.S. grew from 200,000 people in 1980 to almost 7 million in 2014.

• With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has nearly 25 percent –– or 2.3 million — of its prisoners.

Statistics from The World Health Organization, and other sources listed at www.peacealliance.org.

 

Comments welcome below.

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13 thoughts on “Living in a Violent World”

  1. I have seen people violate the dignity of others by humiliating them in front of others who point and laugh at that person’s misfortune. I have seen it on the news where people get in fights and harm each other over many issues plaguing the world.

  2. Very well said. After thousands of years we should have learnt that violence is not a solution to violence. Blood cries out to God and to us from the ground all around the world, yet more conflicts continue. More often than not, conflicts start because someone wants to gain something. To achieve peace, everyone has to give something.
    Even 500 years ago Martin Luther said :
    – “War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity, it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.”
    – “Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.”

    It’s far easier to start a war than to finish one. Lyndon Johnson said : “Any jackass can kick a barn down. It takes a carpenter to build one.”
    Let’s hope and pray that your people elect a president who will make peace and reconciliation a priority. Carpenters are what’s needed.

  3. People reading the devotions are at many different places in their faith walk. I think it would be helpful for the less mature to read “BUT JESUS” to close it out. So the last thing they see is HIM.
    Should have begun by saying, this is an awesome devotion and shows the heart of the leadership at EB. Thank you!
    Respectfully,
    Sal

  4. anger is the father of violence – when I am attacked, I breathe deeply and try to stay calm – I quit the place where I am without saying a word

  5. Thank you for including some comments regarding our “dignity” as those who bear the very image of God. In my work, I sometimes talk with teen girls or young women about their God-given dignity. This is often a new concept for them. It seems the word “dignity” is seldom used or taught nowadays. But often when they embrace their dignity in Christ, their self-worth grows, and they make better choices. Additionally, there’s a type of violence we do to ourselves when we rob ourselves of dignity by using course language or dressing in ways that lack dignity. In turn, we harm others when we refer to them with the “b” word, or the “f” word or other various put downs which can rise to the level of emotional abuse. Violence sometimes begins with the words we use.

  6. My goodness, this is a sign of a great devotional from Pastor Mel ! Many marvellous thoughts and messages from those commenting here, already !
    Yes, I totally agree, dignity is definitely something we must respect in ourselves and others :

    “Knowing when to walk away is Wisdom
    Being able to is Courage
    Walking away with your head held high is Dignity”

    Then there is Serenity, which is similar, but I suppose slightly different ? Anyone have thoughts on that ?

    “God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference. ”

    (we don’t always see the rest of the serenity prayer, but we should ……)
    “Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.
    Amen.”

    We can’t always get it right, Some things we cannot change. We cannot take on the burden of all the evil in the world (only The Lord can do that). We need to pray, but if we don’t know the truth about what is really happening and why it’s happening, we won’t know the right things to pray for. We cannot trust the media these days and we need to look carefully for the real truth. So …. God intended us to enjoy life and be happy, but I think we have a duty to share some of the sadness of what has happened in the world He created, “in the pathway to peace”.
    Jesus promised that the truth will set us free.

    sorry, I hadn’t meant to say so much ….. !

  7. I talk with women who feel they can’t come to God because of abortions (blood on their hands) they had when they younger.
    Thoughts?

    1. The Bible says that if you truly repent, your sin if forgiven and forgotten…erased from God’s mind. HE is not a score keeper when you sincerely seek him.

  8. Most of the people I know who act this way, don’t know anything about the will of God. The hardest thing that I am finding to do, is NOT be silent. But also knowing how not to be silent. Choosing to look at people who do things that are abhorant or that are alien to me, I try to look at them as I think God would…seeing that all are God’s creation. I try to have patience, thought and understanding before reacting. Although I was surprised and saddened by many of the statistics presented… at the same time, I wasn’t…for the Bible tells us so. A people without God is like this.

  9. Father, you are the author of peace and reconciliation… Father God, “Make me your champion in this mission”…
    Lord God, the pursuit of peace is difficult, there are times when I attempt to reconcile situations in my life or situations between others in The Body and I get rejected and the desire to give up is overwhelming. I’m then reminded that your call to this mission requires vigilance… Lord God, “Make me your champion of reconciliation”…
    Lord Jesus, you have made me my brother’s keeper, you stood between the woman and her accusers and without compromise you brought peace to the heart of the accused and turned away the heart inclined to violence, please give me the courage to stand between those in need and their aggressors… Lord Jesus, “Make me your champion for the helpless”…
    Holy Spirit, when you came into my life you brought a peace that I will never understand, I will not be negligent in my responsibility to be your peace maker in a world ruled by violence… Spirit of God, “Make me your champion of peace”…
    Lord God, make me your champion in this season of obedience …

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