Friday, December 31, 2010

A blot on the name of Olivia, Minnesota

I live ten miles from Olivia, Minnesota. During the last week, Olivia has been in the news due to the death of a little 19 month old girl, beaten to death by her Mom’s 19 year old boyfriend. As one person said, “This incident is a blot upon our town’s name.” I say, “It should be.”

In Luke 18:9-14 it says: “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

This part of scripture has much to teach us. One point which has convicted me was the Pharisee (“a member of a Jewish sect of the intertestamental period noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and for insistence on the validity of their own oral traditions concerning the law”) was quick to condemn the actions of the publican (“a Jewish tax collector for the ancient Romans”) and showed no concern for the publican’s salvation. The Pharisee’s prayer was pretty much a blow-hard exposition on his self-righteous deeds.

I visited with some people in the community about the death of the little baby; no one seemed to know who the baby was. Someone said, “It was Hispanic.” Then another replied, “Oh, one of those.” No more was said. Yes, we barely flinch when it’s “one of them” that dies. I guess the Hispanics (or anyone else who is different from us for that matter) are the modern day publicans. We, as believers, become uncomfortably quiet (myself included) when a Hispanic baby dies a violent death.

Do we honestly show any love and concern for our Hispanic brothers or sisters? Are we truly concerned about their salvation? Or are we modern day Pharisees, regarding them in some way less than us? Are we self-centered like the Pharisee whose prayer is only about him blowing smoke about himself?

I believe we are guilty. How sad.

Lord Jesus, help us, wake us up, convict us of our sin of indifference towards all our brothers and sisters Hispanic or others. If the violent death of a 19 month old baby won’t wake us up, what will?

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