In a world gone crazy, it is important for us to learn how to see the root causes. I use the phrase “root causes” deliberately, because it is the kind of thing that liberals love to appeal to, whether we are talking about race riots here, or barbarity in the Middle East. But when they get to talking about root causes and the “broader context” of whatever outrage it is, they invariably veer toward their programs which desperately need more funding.
The root cause is sin — high handed sin in the first instance, and a quiet and mousy enabling sin in the second. What we are talking about is basic — evil behavior in the first instance, and bewilderment about what to do about it in the other. We are now seeing on the national and international stage, over and over again, the same realities that play out when a three-year-old flips out in a restaurant because he didn’t want that kind of ice cream, and his hapless parents are completely and utterly at a loss about what to do about it.
All of these issues are matters of understanding the moral center, and the attendant issues of discipline, strength, incentives, disincentives, resolve, and leading from somewhere other than from behind.
Whether it is a micro issue or a global one, life is a power struggle. There are those with power, and there are those who want it. There are those with power, and there are those who have figured out that those with power don’t know what to do with it. There is right-handed power, Putin-like, which God hates, and there is also limp-wristed power, Obama-like, which God detests. Then there are the bad actors who decide to make the challenge. You show weakness and in about fifteen seconds the challenges come.
And of course every Christian knows that we must distinguish the weakness of the cross, which is true strength, from the weakness of timidity. Christ before His accusers was silent, and He overthrew them all. Belshazzar went weak in the knees at the written word that came to him, and he was overthrown that night. A great deal of weakness is not the hidden wisdom of God. A great deal of weakness is just the manifest folly of man.
ISIS has apparently beheaded an American journalist, James Foley, and threatens to behead another one. Aside from everything else involved in this, who does not see this as a challenge, a taunt, a “what are you going to do about it?” An appropriate response should not be medium level, moderated disapproval by a ditz at the State Department.
When the governor of Missouri calls for “vigorous prosecution” of the the police officer who shot Michael Brown, we all need to know that it is because the evidence demands an indictment. We need to know that it is not because a part of his state is burning down, he is starting to look bad, and he needs a sacrificial lamb. But that is plainly something we do not know. A thousand people in the street with their hands up in a universal sign of surrender does not mean that is what Michael Brown was doing with his hands moments before he was shot. But we do know what Pilate did with his hands — he washed them because a mob was yelling.
If Darren Wilson did an indefensible thing, he should be prosecuted for it. Absolutely. And if Michael Brown did an indefensible thing, we should find out what it was, and there put the matter to rest.
And in the meantime, we need to pray for leaders who understand the world that God made, a world of cause and effect.