This Week’s Beacon

Our minister writes a weekly column for our local newspaper, the Roanoke Beacon.  We’ve included the latest edition below.

Visitors to Poland’s Auschwitz Concentration Camp should be aware that it is now a criminal offense to suggest that the Polish nation was in any way responsible for the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust. While Poland’s government acknowledges that some Poles participated in the atrocities of the Nazi concentration camps, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki maintains that these Poles acted individually on the instructions of their German masters as individuals, not as agents of the Polish wartime government.  Germany, not Poland, Morawiecki insists, must be held responsible.

Let’s play the blame game.

When Canadian tennis pro Eugenie Bouchard slipped on a locker room floor wet with cleaning fluid, a jury ruled that the U.S. Tennis Association was 75% responsible for Bouchard’s injuries, since the light was not on in the locker room.  The jury did assign Bouchard 25% responsibility for walking into the room without turning on the light.

Boonsri Saengyoktrakan, a resident of Bangkok, Thailand, used an axe and a metal pole to smash a car illegally parked across her driveway.  A nearby market regularly attracts a large crowd of customers, and Saengyoktrakan repeatedly asked the authorities to remove illegally parked vehicles.  She has also complained about the lack of code enforcement, and the sanitation, permit and license laws that were being violated by the open air market. On the day of the incident, Saengyoktrakan honked her own car horn for 30 minutes, trying to attract the attention of the owner of the illegally parked car so that they would move the vehicle and allow Saengyoktrakan to exit her own driveway.  When the driver failed to return, Saengyoktrakan used an axe to smash the glass and metal of the vehicle.  While authorities blame Saengyoktrakan for the outburst, she has filed suit against the government blaming it for not acting to resolve the problem despite repeated complaints over almost a decade.
When a school shooter killed 14 students and 3 adults in Parkland, Florida, it took less than 24 hours for the blame game to begin.  President Trump blamed the lack of adequate assessment and treatment for the mentally ill and the violence of video games.  Students held rallies blaming guns and gun owners, and petitioned the Florida legislature for stricter gun laws.  Many in Congress blamed the FBI for failing to act on tips about the shooter’s violent tendency and his intention, expressed on the internet, to be a “professional school shooter.”  The finger-pointing brought no one back to life.

The Bible teaches us to accept responsibility for our own actions.  When some Israelites tried pass blame for their current problem onto the sin of previous generations, God sent the prophet Ezekiel to correct their thinking.  In Ezekiel 18:20 (NIV), God said, “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”  Simply stated, God holds each person responsible for his own actions.  Forgiveness becomes possible when one is able to admit, “I have sinned.”

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone was mature enough to accept responsibility for their sin, and acknowledge their responsibility to help fix problems.

The annual conference of the Methodist Church in Sierra Leone was meeting in Freetown.  As the delegates to the conference discussed and planned the work of the church, they happened to look out the window and noticed one of the laypersons attending the conference giving a bath to a homeless 8-year-old girl.

Several of the conferees had noticed the girl’s tattered dress and matted hair as they entered the conference.  Some had even pushed the little girl aside and told her to leave.  But this woman washed the little girl’s clothing and hair, obtained a new dress, and did her best to demonstrate the love of Christ in the life of that little homeless girl.

Inside the conference, the work of the Church was discussed by important and influential leaders. But right outside the door, the work of the Church was being done by a lone attendee who accepted personal responsibility to make the life of a little girl a little brighter by providing some creature comforts.

One person can make a difference.  Will you be blamed for the bad, or blessed for the good you do?