In Pretoria, South Africa, a very interesting trial is underway involving Oscar Pistorius, known worldwide as the Blade Runner, a reference to the carbon-fiber-legs on which the Olympic and Paralympic competes.
Mr. Pistorius, 27, admits shooting to death his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, but insists he did so because he believed she was an intruder. As chilling details emerged about the murder, Oscar Pistorius literally covered his ears. He was trying to physically block out the words of his neighbor, Johan Stipp, who, hearing the shots and screams in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013, rushed to the crime scene, and tried to save Ms. Steenkamp. There was nothing Mr. Stipp could do. The multiple wounds Ms. Steenkamp received at the hand of Oscar Pistorius were fatal.
While the guilt or innocence of Oscar Pistorius will be determined by the court, what the world has seen, is the image of a man on trial for his life, accused of a brutal murder, covering his ears from the narrative of the horror resulting from something he did. Mr. Pistorius does not want to hear the truth. He does not want to confront the truth of what happened on that fateful night.
In reflecting upon the image of the Blade Runner covering his ears, I am reminded of another trial in history in which ears were covered. The details are given in Acts 7.
In context a man named Stephen, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, had been witnessing in the city of Jerusalem. A religious dispute had broken out between Stephen and certain individuals in the Jewish synagogues. When the Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which Stephen spoke, they found individuals without a moral compass of principles to speak against the messenger of God saying, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.” In this way the people of Jerusalem were stirred up in anger, resulting in social unrest and the arrest of Stephen.
Of course Stephen was innocent. He had not blasphemed Moses. He had not spoken against God. What Stephen did do at his trial was to give a worthy testimony of himself and the Lord Jesus Christ. But those who stood in judgment upon Stephen could not handle the truth and reacted violently against what he had to say. The Bible says that when the audience heard what Stephen had to say, “they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him” (Acts 7:54-58).
When the Bible says that the men “stopped their ears” it means they “covered their ears”. The people in Jerusalem did not want to hear anything else Stephen had to say.
By way of application, in every generation, there are people who act contrary to the known will of God, but they do not want to hear the truth about themselves, and so they “cover their ears.” They do not want to be told they are wrong, not by man, and not by God. So they cover their ears. However, nothing is resolved for covered ears will only uncover anger, cynicism, arrogance, pride, the will to power, and recklessness while displaying a sense of intellectual, religious and moral superiority.
Nevertheless, the challenge for the church is to find a way, if possible, to reach people who have covered their ears. Sometimes it is not possible. Sometimes speaking the truth is not enough. Sometimes loving a person is not enough. Sometimes, there are causalities in Christendom and in society. It is hard for those with covered ears to hear the voice of love. It is difficult to hear love’s plea.
But, if God is gracious, the Spirit will come, and the voice of Jesus can be heard calling, “Come home.”
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.
O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.”
Will L. Thompson, 1880