What I read today;
Revelation 2-3; Acts 7-8; Zephaniah 2-3; Proverbs 21; Ecclesiastes 11; Deuteronomy 24
Mob justice is never true justice. In our world today we seem more and more intent on screaming at each other. We feel justified when we shoot the criminal walking on our lawn. We raise our fist in victory when we lie about people and watch as they are punished. We believe the ends justify the means.
To be very clear I believe that we have mobs are forming on both sides of our politics today. One mob follows the President demanding their way while the other mob follows the speaker of the house and others demanding their way. There is no discussion or debate allowed. It’s my way or the highway and if I don’t get what I want I’m going to start screaming. It started with conservative Tea Party verbally assaulting congressman and senators after the Obamacare vote in 2009 and continues to this day. It led to the election of a President who is clearly a recipient of a national temper tantrum. It continues today with assaults on right-leaning politicians including an armed assault on a Republican softball practice.
Mobs have now found their way into major church bodies, the very place where love for all God’s children is taught weekly in Sunday School. Conservatives and Liberals have drawn up battle lines that stretch around the world. Even in the Catholic Church where the Pope is seen as supreme, the attacks from the right and left are never-ending. This happens by the very people who should know better. We never learn, do we?
Stephen found his way into the middle of just such a situation. His sermon is long and direct. He spares no one in what he says.
The problem is that when you point out to a mob that what they are doing is evil, they tend to punch back. Sadly, the mob always has the power to punch hard. At some point, all mobs do what they do. They explode into violence.
Martin Luther King Jr. understood the law of the mob. That’s why he demanded that protests be non-violent and peaceful. That’s why he demanded no screaming and arguing. The same could be said of Gandhi. Arguing and yelling is like throwing gasoline on the mob’s fire.
The Pharisees in Acts 7 did not want to hear what Stephen had to say. They didn’t want a review of Jewish history that included the selling of Stephen into slavery, the rebellions in the desert, the fact that the revered King David had blood on his hands, and the rest of the sordid history. They were obsessed with only seeing the greatness of their religious history. That always leads to a problem. The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that people of Jesus are people. That we make mistakes and we stumble and fall. We sin, we hurt each other and sometimes we do worse. We are emotional, angry and sinful at times. In other words, we are human. The refused to hear that they needed a Savior!
When Stephen had finished by telling them they had killed Jesus, that was more than the mob could take.
Did Stephen respond by demanding they be thrown into Hell by Jesus? Did Stephen say to them, you evil people God will judge each one of you with no mercy? Did Stephen rail to them that they were violating the law of Moses in their actions? No, Stephen did not. In fact, he looked up to Heaven and saw God and Jesus waiting for him. He trusted Jesus by saying, “My spirit is in your hands, Jesus.” Then before he died he asked God not to hold this sin against them.
The mob will always be there to demand justice. The crowd will always want a public hanging. My fear is that the mob is now closer than ever to taking control both in the church and out of the church.
The real question is how do we respond to the mob? Do we tell the truth in a way that allows the mob to disband quietly as Jesus did with the women caught in adultery? Do we look at our opponents as brothers and sisters or do we look at them as enemies needing to be eradicated?
Could we stand before the mob that is attempting to destroy our career, our life, everything we’ve worked for and ask Jesus, like Stephen did, Father forgive them? Or are we more intent on getting our way and establishing our own kingdom?
To stop the mob we have to be the one standing in the gap showing the grace and mercy of God. If we don’t the mob will win. Is that what we want?