Violence, Ugliness, and Thanksgiving

Week after week new forms of violence come to the surface.

Monday’s Star Tribune documented how more and more teenage guys ridicule their girlfriends in public and hit them in private.

James Dobson documented recently the increasing violence of homosexual groups like the one which overpowered police in San Francisco recently and smashed windows where the police were retreating and threw shards of broken glass like frisbees at the police.

Teenage murder rates have increased 232 percent since 1950 and today murder is the leading cause of death among 15- to 19-year-old minority youths.

Television’s heros are increasingly vicious in their sacrilege. Amanda Donohoe, the actress who plays C.J. in L.A. LAW not only opens a show with a lesbian kiss but says, concerning her role in Lair of the White Worm, “I’m an atheist, so it was actually a joy. Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun—especially for me, being a woman . . . I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages.”

The Bible warns that “in the last days there will come times of stress. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful. . .” (2 Timothy 3:1-2). Notice how ingratitude goes with pride, abuse and insubordination.

In another place Paul says, “Let there be no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking . . . but rather thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). So it seems that gratitude is the opposite of ugliness and violence.

The reason this is so is that the feeling of gratitude is a humble feeling not a proud one. It is other-exalting, not self-exalting. And it is glad-hearted not angry or bitter.

The key to unlocking a heart of gratitude and overcoming bitterness and ugliness and disrespect and violence is a strong belief in God, the Creator and Sustainer and Provider and Hope-giver. If we do not believe we are deeply indebted to God for all we have or hope to have, then the very spring of gratitude has gone dry.

So I conclude that the rise of violence and sacrilege and ugliness and insubordination is a God-issue. The basic issue is a failure to feel gratitude at the upper levels of our dependence. When the high spring of gratitude to God fails at the top of the mountain, soon all the pools of thankfulness begin to dry up further down the mountain. And when gratitude goes, the sovereignty of the self condones more and more corruption for its pleasure.

Pray this Thanksgiving season for a great awakening of humble gratitude in all of us.

Thankful for you,

Pastor John

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