I am overwhelmed this morning. This week has been horrifically dividing for race in our country. 2 more black men have been killed by 2 white police officers. 2 more families have a loss to mourn. While details are still forthcoming, what was recorded on video is sufficient enough to know these situations are bad.
Are tragic events of racism more frequent now or do we simply have more cameras to document what has been happening?
I know these situations are layered. I can’t imagine the tense situations that police officers have to encounter. The divisive nature of such events make it impossible to lay 100% blame on any particular person. That’s why these situations are on such a grander battle field than our natural eyes are seeing (Eph. 6:12).
In the last few years, I have watched the increase of such racial events with sheer horror and deep sorrow. The events have understandably left minorities feeling scared, confused, and angry.
As if those deaths were not enough to grieve, we have another reason to mourn since 11 police officers were gunned down by a sniper in Dallas as they watched over civil protests.
Our nation is full of sacrificial police officers who are called to serve and to protect. There is nothing ordinary about their job, but they were serving an ordinary shift and they were murdered.
In an attempt to protect protesters, they were murdered trying to keep the peace.
With 6 still in the hospital, we have 5 less officers and 5 more families in mourning.
America wakes up in a more divided state. Due to media coverage, comments on news articles, and social media posts, everyone is making their voice heard. I am doing that through this post. So if you are going to hear me say anything, I want it to be directed towards a solution rather than fixating upon the problem. Here’s the reality:
Minorities feel unsafe. Police feel threatened. I’m neither of those so my default position should be sympathy and compassion for both.
A black man should not be fearful to drive his car and be pulled over. A police officer should not be fearful to do his job. But right now that is the reality for many. It is a tragic reality.
As a pastor, I don’t want you to assume certain things about me due to “pastors” you see in the news, and I am sure that police officers feel the same way. I feel that minorities feel the same way. Just because someone like you does something does not mean that you are guilty by association.
Punishing a person ethnically different from you for what someone of his race has done is not heroic – it is cowardice.
I have said it before and I will say it again: Don’t respond to another’s racism by your own version of racism. I preached on “Racism and the Gospel” at North Greenville University earlier this year. While many asked why I would do that, comments in person and posts on YikYak revealed that racism is alive and well (though often hidden) even on Christian universities. I said this then, but posted earlier this week:
Concerning race, please stop desensitizing feelings you have never felt. Stop criticizing shoes in which you have never walked.
This is huge. We are burning more bridges than the ones we are building with our rhetoric towards one another. It is seen in what we say and also what we do not say. If we are vocal about some deaths and silent concerning others, we are speaking volumes!
If you only grieve over the deaths of those who look like you, you are a part of the problem.
Racism and the Cross
Where does racism lead? It leads to death. That shouldn’t be any surprise to us. Racism is sin and sin leads to death (Rom. 6:23).
When we justify the shooting in a situation based upon the flawed character of the shooter or the one shot, we are wasting our time. We will never know all the details of every situation.
Every person who is shot is not morally perfect. Of course many of these black men who have been killed have either stuff in their past or were in a bad situation. Why? Because all of us are sinners. We all have stuff in our past. Of course these white cops are not perfect and have a history of something bad. Why? Because all of us are sinners. If we search hard enough, we are going to find something on each of them because it is easy to find something on each of us.
Many of us believe that those men deserve to be shot. Others believe those cops deserved to be imprisoned. Each side believes they deserved it.
Let me tell you about one who did not deserve it. There’s only one perfect person and his name is Jesus. He never deserved to be murdered or imprisoned, and yet he experienced both. Why? Because that’s where racism leads.
Where does racism lead? It leads us to the cross.
Racism is sin. Sin leads to death. Racism leads us to the necessary death of Jesus on the cross to atone for the sin of racism and every other sin committed by red, yellow, black, and white. The only perfect one died a death he did not deserve to die. He who knew no sin became sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
Racism leads to the cross, and we will either die there or be made alive there.
Family devotion was heavy this morning. Speaking with my children about what is going on in our country would be loaded for any family, but it was unique for our multi-ethnic family. Our children just stared in the distance trying to wrestle with it all. While the news overwhelmed us, Eph. 2:14 gave us hope. I pray it can give you hope as well.
Differences divide us, but the gospel unites us.
Christ came and made those who were far off from him and one another due to ethnic differences united again. The cross is our only hope. And our sin will either take us to a cross upon which we will be punished or a cross where we will live for the one punished for our sake. He broke down the walls of our division.
I will not put up walls where Christ has knocked them down.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. -Ephesians 2:13-22