Victimless crime is a myth. Face your victims.
Blood splotched the sidewalk in front of the convenience store. I wondered about the victim. Have you ever heard of victim-less crime? In a victimless crime, supposedly no one is traumatized; nobody is required to clean up a mess. Maybe no one even knows. Should anything count as a crime if it has no consequences?
I wouldn’t exactly call it a crime . . .
- The retired couple gambles an afternoon away at the casino.
- A high school junior calculates how much body to reveal in her prom outfit.
- The pastor hangs up on a homeless veteran.
All my friends are okay with it . . .
- Putting gay rights in the same category as the American civil rights struggle of the 1950s and ‘60s.
- Prioritizing Sunday worship lower than a sports practice.
- A husband lingering over the swimsuit issue.
I’m not hurting you . . .
- Friday evening we watch a movie with a brutal murder.
- The congregation decides not to donate to tsunami relief.
- Lovers move in together but do not get married.
Ever said, “What I choose to do is my own business . . . besides, I’m not hurting you.” Hmm. Consider this, Christian. When you think, talk, or act, there are likely to be four persons involved.
God says: “You are answerable to me, since I made you. You are accountable to me, since I redeemed you. I am responsible for you, since I adopted you and made you a Christian.”
My desires are okay as long as they remain desires and not actions. What I permit myself to think about—pictures, scenes, shows—register with me. My conscience knows. I have to live with myself and these imprinted influences today.
“… and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:14).
Christian, you are in charge of you. What you harbor in your heart may repel God’s Holy Spirit.
My fellow Christian
God has not left any of his children alone. One of the lovely benefits of the Christian faith is its fellowship of other believers. The Church is a living thing. So what affects me, a part of the Body of Christ, is going to affect my fellow Christian. What I say will never be just words without weight, sounds without meaning, ideas without import. What I think, say, and do will be considered by my sister and my brother.
My neighbor, the unbeliever
One of Satan’s temptations is to make me imagine that in certain situations I am anonymous: surfing the Web, on a business trip, in line at the stadium, on a vacation.
“What I do only affects me and no one else.”
But my neighbor is here. The unbeliever sees me. My neighbor, the doubter, draws his conclusions about life and about Christianity in part from me: “So that is how a Christian lives.”
Test yourself. Use this little template when you are weighing an idea, an action, or a failure to act: What message am I sending to my God? To my own conscience? To my fellow Christians? To my unchurched neighbor?
Victimless crime is a myth. Face your victims; do not harden your heart by believing the Liar. Get to know page 154 in the front of our hymnal, Christian Worship. Read through that page-and-a-half before worship begins next Sunday. Repent of sin, Christian, instead of defending it. And do not return today to what caused the hurt, shame, and guilt yesterday.
Forgiveness is real because Jesus is real. It is his blood that splotches the pavement before us.
Living Hope Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE