CLEVELAND, Ohio — The recent Cleveland police-involved shooting death of a 12-year-old has sparked a movement to get toy guns away from kids.
Sunday night, there was a gathering at the Cudell Recreation Center on West Boulevard where Tamir Rice was shot and killed. The Outcast Voters League, out of Alabama, organized a smash and burn event for toy guns.
Across the nation other similar protests have been taking place. Anti-gun rallies are in abundance. Everyone has a complaint about the system — the process — the violence.
And I sympathize. Really I do. I am saddened by the violence. The images from NYC and Ferguson, MO, as well as other parts of nation make me very sad.
I also get angry and frustrated. Those feelings stem from the reality that most of those protesting really don’t understand what needs to change.
The gun is not the problem. Nor is the toy gun. In most cases the system or the process is not really the main issue.
The real issue is the hearts of men. Mankind has a bent toward sin.
That’s not politically correct or popular, but it is true. We gravitate toward the worst. (Ever read Lord of the Flies?) We are proud. We don’t like to be told we cannot have our way.
So there is a need for police forces and courts. There is a need for laws and regulations.
Inherent in this sinful and fallen world is the reality of lawlessness, lawbreakers, sinners, racists, bigots, looters, and the like.
Jesus once noted that a man’s heart governs who he is.
As a man thinks in his heart — so is he.
I spent almost a month in South Africa back in 1991. Apartheid was still in place. Mandela was still a prisoner. Desert Storm had just begun. But within the church there was love and peace. Good will toward men. Black, White, Indian, African, Afrikaner, European, or American. Didn’t matter much.
We sang, we worshiped, we studied together, played together, ate together. Different hearts. Different attitudes. Different lives. All in the midst of a country governed by a basic hatred.
Many with a religious platform or background in this current crisis attempt to speak into the mess and become embroiled in the political rhetoric and talking points.
What is needed is a call to repentance. A call to bow before God and weep. A call to change our hearts so hatred, strife, violence, and the like are not our first reaction.
Change my heart, Oh, God. Wash me and make me clean.