South Africa is the violent crime capital of the world. It’s nice to be known for something other than Apartheid. Indiscriminate rape, murder, and armed robbery may actually be a step in a better direction.
Most foreigners I meet can’t comprehend the milieu in which South Africans conduct their everyday lives. Jaws drop when they hear of the presidential candidate whose campaign became more successful with every revealing news cycle of his ongoing corruption cases, rape trial, and other criminal antics including polygamy.
The watching world shakes its head in bewilderment at stories of flame-thrower car defense systems and armed response teams patrolling barbed-wired neighborhoods. For us, the denizens of urban South Africa, it’s normal to make an appointment to visit friends by contacting their housing complex’s security team. Everyday routines like drawing cash from an ATM in broad daylight have become an adrenal adventure; public benches not bolted to the floor are mythical relics of a bygone era.
With the strictest gun laws in the world (which, incidentally have only increased gun-related crimes exponentially, since criminals for some reason seem unperturbed by legal restrictions; quelle surprise), a desperate populace resort to paintball and pellet-gun arsenals, krav maga classes, and defensive driving courses.
Every family in my church have either personally or in their extended family experienced robbery at gunpoint, sexual assault, and/or nocturnal intrusions (the best defense is to pretend to still be asleep, so the burglars empty your home without needing to tie you up).
What this constant level of fear does over time is to create an environment, even among believers, where people are always talking about:
a) what new strategy to enact in a life-threatening situation,
b) what the latest self-defense laws permit you to do to an assailant (not much, if you harm an armed attacker using excessive force you may end up with a stiff jail sentence yourself), or
c) how to immigrate to another part of the world where the grass is less blood stained.
The defense against defense talk is to recalibrate our thinking daily and realign it with Scripture.
The Curse is everywhere in full effect. We fear crime, but we are not haunted by the threat of mass shootings or terrorism, we don’t live in the path of hurricanes, on a fault line, or in the shadow of a volcano. We aren’t persecuted for our faith by the government, or anticipating a sudden coup d’etat.
The grass may be greener elsewhere, but it’s still cursed grass, sick with some or other deadly malady.
Everywhere on planet Earth the death rate is holding steady at 100%. Elimelech, Mahlon, and Chillion learned this the hard way: escaping the famine in Israel, only to find that Moab was not their final destination (Ruth 1:3-5).
Statistics don’t apply to us in the same way. We have a Father in heaven that knows and loves us, hears our prayers, and is strong to defend and deliver us from all evil.
The believer’s hope is in a better country (Heb 11:16)
The believer’s victory over death has been won by a conquering Savior (1 Cor 15:54).
The believer’s treasure is laid up in heaven where thieves cannot break in and steal (Matt 6:19-21).
What do you fear? Do you dread the delayed but looming fiscal cliff? Are you nervous about the big quake that will turn Arizona into seafront property? Is your annual doctor’s visit a source of uncontrollable anxiety? For everyone the temptation to fear will bare it’s teeth in different arenas. But there is only one cure for fear: God.
The sole remedy to the poison of anxiety is to think on what is true (Phil 4:8) and saturate your heart with Scripture’s promises of God’s love and power. Keep an eternal perspective and spend more time reciting memory verses than you spend scrutinizing your investments or practicing your krav maga gun defense moves.
What works better than gun control, or any other human measure to bring safety to society?
Simple: God’s control.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:1-5).