A tragic waste
The riots and looting up and down England during the summer of 2011 had a terrible impact. Lives were tragically lost, homes and businesses destroyed, and many people were left fearful of what may happen next. Just up the road in Nottingham several police stations were attacked and cars were vandalised.
This was the big question on everyone’s lips.
Politicians, media pundits and sociologists have all offered their ideas.
Some blame poor education, or family breakdown, or unemployment.
Some blame violent films, music and computer games.
Some blame the police or the government.
Some blame big business and advertisers for a society that just values ‘consumerism’.
Many of these factors will indeed have been part of the problem. But commentators have struggled to explain why the looters included not only ‘deprived’ youths, but also well educated and successful older people. We have seen graduates, a social worker, a teaching assistant and the daughter of a millionaire in court for their part in the crimes. Surely there is a deeper problem in our nation?
The heart of the problem
While outside factors certainly influence what we do, the Bible traces the problem of crime – and all our rebellious thoughts, words and actions – to our hearts:
‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.’ (Jeremiah 17:9)
And this applies to every one of us, and not only to the criminals we have seen rampaging through our towns.
The problem of the heart
The Lord Jesus Christ spoke plainly about it:
‘From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.’ (Mark 7:21-23)
A new heart
It is because we all have such sinful hearts that Jesus came into our world. He came not just as a good example for us, but as Saviour. He died on the cross for sinners and rose again. We cannot cure our heart, but Jesus gives a new heart to those who call upon him for forgiveness and trust in him.
‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17)