How do Christians deal with crime? Today, three perspectives came to the fore as three different Christians gave expression of their faith in different ways.
As I walked into my office this morning, I collected my post as usual. Among the many letters, I received correspondence from a prominent pentecostal church in our province, calling churches to a national day of prayer against crime. The leaflet contained the following heading: "We declare war on crime!". It is easy to be sympathetic to the sentiments conveyed, especially when a third family member was shot during a robbery in less than a year. But think about the words. Using the framework of a violent act to bring an end to violence and acts that cause distress in our society? WWJD?
The second and third perspectives were on the frontpage of today's edition of the Beeld-newspaper (a national Afrikaans newspaper). The first story on the tells of a man who lives in a suburb next to ours. He chased and caught one of the robbers that broke into his home and who stabbed the domestic worker. On catching the thief he asked him: "Do you know Jesus?". He then prayed for him, forgave him, gave him a hug and asked him to help the injured lady, all while telling him about Jesus' love. An awe-inspiring story!
Two columns below, the story is told a minister who was almost robbed of his bike, fought back, clobbering the robber over the head with his bike. The robber came off second best, the minister landed in hospital, and expressed that he feels that he cannot preach a message of reconciliation any longer.
I am moved by all three these approaches. Each of them resonates with some part of me. First, I want to be proactive in contributing towards the healing of our society. A part of me also wants to clobber any would-be thief over the head, hopefully knocking some sense into what seems to be obvious senselessness. But the story of the lay-person praying for the robber is probably the closest we will come to a Jesus-approach: turning the cards so that the "enemy" becomes an instrument of healing.
I'll have to chew on these approaches some more before I can make sense of them in my own life.