In the last six months, street problems in Minneapolis have increased significantly. I know the statistics don’t recognize it yet but for us “front line people,” we see the change. I start checking properties at 6:00 a.m. In the past, I have felt safe but now the hair stands up on the back of my 62 year old head. Probably it is just because I’m an old man; it may be, but I think not.
In the last two weeks at least nine people have been murdered on the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. One of the deaths was the execution of Maplewood Police Sgt. Joe Bergeron. It is not just the killing but theft, assault and robbery have also increased. We see more prostitution and street level drug dealing. As unemployment benefits run out, some people feel forced to do things they once thought abominable.
Earlier this week in Fairfax, Minnesota, a 14 year old paper delivery girl was abducted and sexually assaulted. Yes, the streets of Minneapolis have come to Fairfax but do any of us give a damn?
Locally, I hear very little talk of this incident. Probably I’m on the outside looking in but I hear very little concern on the radio or in the press. Most internet comments for the paper were: “Lock him up and throw away the key” or “Cut his nuts off.” I can understand the deep feelings and frustration. Crime must be paid for; punishment must be meted out but what have we, as professing Christians, done to influence our culture for good or have we just become professional complainers after the fact.
I believe we live with our heads deeply planted in the sand. What message are we sending to our sons and daughters when we fail to openly discuss such things as sexual assault, physical violence, drug dealing, and prostitution when they are out in the open? You say, “Jerry, it may be happening in Minneapolis but not here.” Tell that to the young girl and her parents in Fairfax.
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.” Some days I cannot find much cheer and to my limited vision I don’t see much overcoming. In Rev. William Hendriksen’s book “More Than Conquerors,” copyright 1939 (before World War II), he said this in part on page 99:
“The light shines in the darkness: the churches are lampstands. But the darkness hates the light: the World persecutes the church.”
“Whenever in history the church is faithful to its calling and bears testimony concerning the truth, tribulation is bound to follow. Aside even from this fact, the church is in the world. Hence, it suffers along with the world. Children of God do not escape the horrors of war, famine, and pestilence. The church needs these tribulations. It needs both the direct antagonism of the world and participation in the common woes that pertain to this earthly life as a result of sin. The church, too, is sinful. It is in constant need of purification and sanctification.”
“These tribulations, therefore, are employed by our Lord as an instrument for our own spiritual advancement. We see God’s footstool. Let us not forget his Throne! To be sure, we say that to them that love God all things work together for good, but do we really believe it?”
“Hence, when the world is enkindling the flames of hatred and slaughter and when the earth is drenched with blood, may our tear-dimmed eye catch a vision of The Throne which rules the universe. In the midst of trial and tribulation may our gaze be riveted upon the One who is King of kings and Lord of Lords.”As Christians, may we not remain unmoved about what’s happening around us. Let’s go into the world and be agents of change. Let’s reach out to the hurting even if it is sexual perverts, prostitutes and street hustlers. We seldom, if ever, touch shoulders with these people. Jesus did and He was criticized for it. If we do so also, we will be criticized. Most will consider us weird. Standing for truth, ministering to the down and out will cost us. Are we willing to pay the price? In the meantime, keep your eyes on the throne. God is still in control. Keep your eyes on the cross. It is our only hope and it is the only hope for the world. Jesus will come again and set all things straight. In the meantime, let’s be an army on the move not one sitting in the barracks (the church) complaining. God help us in these days.