3 Lessons from Dallas, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge Killings

 

protI am genuinely grieving for my country now. In some ways it seems like we have regressed to the 1960’s. The tragedies that have happened this past week have only exposed the rifts that have been percolating beneath the nation’s surface. Here are some lessons that we can learn from this past week.

There has never been a time of greater need for prayer for this country.

If you are a person of faith, now more than ever is a time to pray. Our country is divided, it is full of distrust amongst its citizens, full of anger, and full of violence.  There are some politicians who for political gain are exploiting the divide and in some cases worsening it. The amount of anger is astounding. The one thing that the internet does is allow people to express feelings they at other times would hide or limit to certain circles. It is clear that there is a great deal of antagonism between the diverse groups within this country. It is also clear that the body of Christ needs to provide a template  for how to respond in the midst of such tragedies. I’d love to some inter-church prayer vigils between suburban and urban churches and or mono cultural vs multicultural sites. The devil is busy sowing seeds of discord and we need to counter that through sowing seeds of love and unity. Every believer should be praying that our country would know the Prince of Peace. We should be praying for the families of those who lost loved ones over these sense less killings. We should be praying for our law enforcement officers also.

 1I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Here, Paul in his letter to Timothy states that we should be praying for our government officials for the well being of our cities. We should be praying that our law enforcement enforce justice, but also for their protection and that they may be agents of integrity so that we may live quiet lives. This phrase “quiet life” is  hinting to a life without war and turmoil. This is not a reality in our inner cities. There is constant death, constant crime, constant fighting in our cities. Our police are on the front lines, fighting against the most vile elements in our society. Most of the the time they do this well, however there are times that they mishandle their role, and with an over zealousness begin to intimidate and cause tension with the people that they were meant to protect.  This happens rarely in many communities, but in others this tension and  conflict probably occurs more times than we’d like to acknowledge. This has to change. So in addition to thanking God for our law enforcement and praying for their protection we should also pray that our law enforcement would eliminate from its midst those individuals who have failed to protect and serve the communities by demonstrating repeated patterns of abuse of power or imitation of the criminal elements they were meant to combat.

Our county needs to do a better job of displaying empathy

I find it discouraging that often when a contentious shooting occurs and people begin to protest, that many turn a deaf ear. It is amazing to see the reactions of people who say that they are tired of hearing people protest the loss of a young life. Is it reasonable to be angry and frustrated when a young member of the community is cut off? Is it reasonable to be outraged when that member appears to have been killed with impunity by someone who is meant to protect them when there were  possibly other ways to deescalate a situation. Is it too much to protest the mishandling of an investigation, or the lack of sensitivity in dealing with the corpse of said victims? I think a large part of America needs a history lesson on the previous relations with the minority population and the law to understand that there have been years of cover ups, unexplained deaths, that do not easily go away. I mean the government had a legal extermination program for our native american brothers and sisters.  Over 100,000 indians died between 1850-1900. Many of them were murdered without being prosecuted. After slavery, many blacks could be rounded up and killed just for looking at a white woman. Most people don’t know of the dark side of history so they often feel that people are making things up. This is not to say that some of the individuals who were killed  recently were outstanding citizens. What this is saying is that we are dealing with over 200 years of summary executions and violations of civil rights, so if  a group wants to protest peacefully, let them protest with out complaining. In fact why don’t you mourn with them. 

15″ Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

Here is another pet peeve of mine. It is often said that the black community does not condemn black on black violence. This is a myth. Much of the community is horrified and exasperated by the amount of violence that is plaguing the inner cities. There are marches, there are rallies to stop the killings. There is no magic wand to erase the killings, it is a complex process that is beyond the work of mere individuals. However there is a higher expectation for law enforcement. We expect law enforcement to respond better than the criminal elements of society. We should expect them to, and for the most part a large population does. Thank God for those officers. I do think that more can be done to honor those officers who do work hard to protect the communities. At the same time it is perfectly reasonable to protest when  officers fall dreadfully short.

Here’s a question to ponder. Is it possible to appreciate law enforcement and at the same time critique elements that are harmful or detrimental to the community?

We overcome hate with love.

I will close with this passage of scripture from Romans chapter 12.  I find it very appropriate and timely.

 Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. 10 Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. 11 Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord. 12 Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying. 13 Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.

14 Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them. 15 When others are happy, be happy with them, and when they are sad, be sad. 16 Be friendly with everyone. Don’t be proud and feel that you are smarter than others. Make friends with ordinary people.[a] 17 Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, 18 and do your best to live at peace with everyone.

19 Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says,

“I am the one to take revenge
    and pay them back.”

20 The Scriptures also say,

“If your enemies are hungry,
    give them something to eat.
And if they are thirsty,
give them something
    to drink.
This will be the same
as piling burning coals
    on their heads.”

21 Don’t let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.

AMEN.

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