Friday, July 08, 2016

Again--the Tragedy of Senseless Violence

Once again, we have had a tragedy-filled week here in America. Lord have mercy.

We all have a certain feeling of helplessness whenever things like this occur. When I heard and read about the events in Louisiana and Minnesota, my heart sank. I felt for the families who had lost a person they loved. I felt for the police officers who respond to emergencies as a matter of course. I felt for our country as it seeks to navigate through the incredible challenges we are facing today. I felt for the many people in our nation who feel disenfranchised and under-represented in our "system" of life. I felt for all the people who have been victimized by those in authority.

Again. Lord have mercy.

And then, last night. Wow. Last night. In Dallas, Texas. My goodness. There are no words to describe the emotions we are all feeling here in the metroplex.

Peaceful protests are woven into the fabric of our nation. Historically, we have protected and blessed the rights of Americans to free speech and free expression. I certainly understand and support the right of our fellow Americans to protest injustice and express frustration. I grew up during the Civil Rights Era in Birmingham, Alabama. Trust me--I am very familiar with protests that emerge from just causes.

Unfortunately, the tragic turn in Dallas last night may affect all Americans. The acts of a handful of sinful people will have ramifications across our land today and in the days ahead. Police officers will be on edge today. Uniformed people will be on alert. And--for good reason. The overwhelming majority of police officers in this country are incredible people. I was reminded of that last night as I watched the events unfold on television. I watched courageous police officers do what police officers do--they RAN TOWARD an active shooter. They put their lives on the line to protect our community.

How many times today will police officers across the country do the very same thing? How many times will they step into a tense situation and diffuse it without event? How many Americans today will go about their business without even thinking about the acts of courage on display all around them by our police officers? Would you join me today in praying for the police officers across America today? Let's pray for their safety and their ability to intervene in the troubled places of our country today in ways that will diffuse anger and resolve conflict.

At the same time, we have to admit there are injustices in our society. People of color still face obstacles that are unfamiliar to others. People of color often are tested in ways that many of us do not understand. It is tragic. We are the land of the free ---- but there is so much work left to be done to make that freedom a reality for all Americans.

This morning in my daily Bible reading, I was reading Acts 5. I'm sure you know the passage. It begins with the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira. However, the text then goes on to recount the faithful disciples sharing Jesus with their community. They were arrested and persecuted but they continued to share the good news of Jesus.

As I have reflected this morning on all of the recent events, I have sensed the leadership of God in my own life to be more personally faithful to share the hope of Jesus with the people I encounter. I have also been impressed to do my part to help our society address injustice as I am able. I have been reminded of just how lost our society truly is.

I can't get the image out of my mind of those officers running toward the trouble. I just sense that we as believers must do the same thing. We can't shy away from the forces of evil in our world. We have got to engage injustice. We must bring the hope and love of Jesus to the broken people in our world. We are not called to be "safe" in this world. The world is too lost. The needs are too great.

We also have to run toward those who are hurting. We must stand at their side and mourn with them. We must let them know that their Father is grieving with them today. He is sickened by senseless violence and hurt. He loves them deeply and we need to be the messengers of that love.

So--I am praying for all concerned today. I am also praying for the Church of Jesus Christ today. I am praying that God will empower His people to be His messengers of love, hope, comfort, care. I am praying that we will engage our communities with the Gospel of Jesus. I am humbled by the concluding verse of Acts 5: "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah."

Lord, have mercy today on our nation. Lord, may Your church represent You well today.