I sit here in silence with many thoughts racing in my head.
Who is at fault for this? What could be done about this? Why are people behaving this way? Is social media exposing the problem, or simply stoking the wood to fuel the fire?
I am not a black man. I am a 20-something year old white male who happens to have 5 black cousins, some by blood and others by marriage. I love them. They are my family, and I see them as no different than any other members of my family.
I am not a police officer. I am a Christian pastor and seminarian who happens to have a few very good friends who are either law enforcement officers, or have been law enforcement officers. Some are in my church, others not. I love them. They are brothers-in-Christ, and two of them I would consider to be of the best of friends to me.
In light of last week’s events, I am utterly broken over both the injustice and hatred demonstrated between two classes of people: racial minorities and police officers (hereafter referred to as LEO’s). News reports flash across the screen and inform the country of yet another police shooting involving a black person, and following that another report comes out that there are LEO’s targeted in acts of revenge.
The more I think about this issue, pray about this issue, and engage others on this issue, the more I realize that I am unable to do the work necessary to fix this problem – the cycle of violence and distrust between racial minorities and LEO’s.
It’s hard to watch as people on both sides of this epidemic are burying loved ones and holding candlelight vigils. As a Christian, Scripture tells us to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn (Rom…. Insert text). There’s been much of that lately, and i don’t mean just last week. Though young, I have never seen such a time of division and distrust in this country as I have in the last couple of years. Perhaps social media has simply exposed it, maybe it was always there.
I’m willing to bet it always has been.
You see, the shedding of blood, distrust, jealousy, hatred, ill-intent is no new problem. It’s a problem that has been around since the beginning of our race – the human race.
In the beginning…
(I hope this sounds familiar)…
In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth. In the beginning, God made the mountains, the oceans, the animals, and the stars. In the beginning, God also made two people, from whom the entire human race would come – Adam and Eve.
God gave Adam and Eve every blessing, and withheld nothing from them that was good. He only had one stipulation, “do not eat of that tree.” Of course, in our humanness, Eve got curious, was deceived, and ate of that tree. Adam did as well. The first crime against God had been committed, and the earth and all within it has been sent into a downward spiral of sin ever since.
Soon after two sons of Adam and Eve – Cain and Abel – were doing their duties as gardener and shepherd, respectively, and had each brought an offering to the Lord. Cain, some fruit, and Abel the firstborn of his flock. God saw Abel’s willingness to give God his best and God blessed him. Cain, not so much. Cain became angry and invited Abel out to the family field, and murdered him.
A cold-blooded act of revenge. Brother killing brother. The first crime a human being committed against another human being was murder. Rage developed, ill-intentions were acted upon, blood was shed. Murder.
Murder. Hate. Anger. Revenge. This problem isn’t new. Since the inception of sin, its wicked distortion of all that which is good has plagued everything, especially the human heart.
Earlier I said the the work necessary to fix America’s problem, i.e. your problem i.e. my problem, is really beyond my abilities. Its beyond your abilities, as well.
Protests, music lyrics, celebrity speeches, marches, sit-ins, social media posts, pleas for by loved ones – all of these methods should be utilized to bring attention to this epidemic and a voice to the voiceless.
But none of them get to the heart of the matter.
Because it is a matter of the heart.
The cold truth of the matter is that this issue will not be resolved by government edict or by New York Times essays, though a good place to start. The core of the issue is a heart problem.
The problem of sin is deeply rooted within the human heart. Its effects are evident and grievous – racism, hate, suffering, grief, death. Our hope for a better present and future is not government and policies, but Jesus Christ. Policies can only serve, externally, to deter evil; the good news of Jesus Christ has the power to change the hearts of people.
We don’t need more policies, we need heart surgery. You cannot do it. I cannot do it. The changing of the human heart is only done by God, and like any doctor, a physician cannot work until a person admits there is a need and submits himself or herself to the physician’s care.
The events that we have witnessed, the bodies that have been buried, the loved loves left picking up the pieces have not been because a lack of training or government oversight, but because our hearts are wayward and are in need of repentance and faith – trust – in the God who made us.
Black, Hispanic, white, school teacher, police officer, janitor, construction worker, public official – we are all in need of heart transplants. The disease of sin runs too deep. The effects of sin are too profound. The only hope for humanity is the good news that Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died for you, that he was raised for you, that he has overcome sin, death, and judgment for you, and that by turning from sin, and submitting your life to the care of the Great Physician that you can be free, forgiven, new, and restored. You can have hope in sorrow, joy in loss, and peace with God and all men – though difficult – no matter what. And you can trust that God is working to make all things new. There will, one coming day, be an end to racism, hate, murder, the shedding of tears, and death. God is making every wrong right and therein is our hope. Our hope is in the Lord.
I love my black brothers and sisters, friends and family. I love my police officer brothers and sisters, friends and family.
As for this very moment, I sit in silence, but not for long. There are things to do, words to speak, and a glorious gospel of hope to share; yet as I do that I must pray. I must pray for the words to speak, the actions to take, and I must pray that God would do a mighty work of forgiveness and reconciliation in my own heart, and in the hearts of all those who are burdened due these events.
For the record, prayer is not a meaningless sentiment, nor the stopping point of our efforts to see racial reconciliation, but it is the proper place to start and the proper posture to maintain in doing this good work. Without people and relationships covered in prayer, we labor for naught, but with prayer, we wield a powerful weapon, not because the act of our praying makes a difference, but because the God to whom we pray makes a difference.
So I, along with many other believers pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Yet in the meanwhile, let us work diligently to love others and seek justice.