I’m writing this from the fire station today. It’s a Sunday, just a few days before this is getting sent out or posted for you all to read. I mention that because today is the day I walked by the television and said, “For the love of God can we please stop killing each other!”
“Breaking news” flashed across the screen in its red and blue emergency tones as reports from Louisiana told the story of three officers killed and three more injured in what’s become the next incident in a crisis that seems to be ever escalating.
There may be some of you who remember times like this from back in the 60’s or so. Maybe you can draw similar feelings from the early 90’s but for me and my generation it seems worse than it’s ever been.
Racial tension, fear, more killings, terrorism concerns, anger, confusion…all of that and it doesn’t seem like there is much of a solution out there. So how are we as lovers of Jesus supposed to deal with all of this? Where is the answer, the solution? How do we live and how do we function?
There’s an approach I like to use with scripture that I don’t have a clear understanding of, especially those that seem to contradict what I believe to be true about the nature and character of God. I line it up against the life and ministry of Jesus and by doing that I’m confident in what the passage can’t mean. It doesn’t always mean I have a clear understanding of what it does mean but it helps me move forward until more revelation comes.
I’ll use the same approach here. I may not have a clear understanding of what I can do to untangle this terrible web the nation is struggling against but there are some things I can’t do.
- Allow fear to grip my heart
It seems like fear is so often lurking that the doors of our hearts in all its ugly forms. Stress, anxiety, worry, and dread; they are waiting to use what’s happening in the world to throw us into a heightened state of being in which we begin to think of ways we can protect ourselves from the violence around us. Then we begin to make decisions from that place and end up serving fear. Fear distracts, dragging our eyes off of what God has designed for us and onto our adversary’s agenda. It destroys peace and buries joy.
Ted Dekker has said that fear is at the root of most of our issues. I think he’s probably right. We’ve got to remember that we are one with Yeshua and because of that there’s nothing to fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. In that love there is no fear of loss or fear of harm.
Remember that God loves us more than we can ever imagine and no matter what is happening or could happen, that will never change. We already have more than we could ever want because we have the kingdom. Become detached from the need to be defined by the temporary things of this world and we will become detached from fear.
- Perpetuate the world’s system
Violence. That’s the merry-go-round we seem to be having a hard time stepping off of these days. The thing with violence is that many think it solves problems. The danger of the world’s system is that it actually does seem to temporarily solve the issues we become passionate about. But the only thing violence does is perpetuate more violence, just like the relief the world offers for our pain only leads to deeper pain.
Jesus lived a nonviolent lifestyle. That doesn’t mean he was a doormat but it does mean that he didn’t escalate or perpetuate violence. Violence is how the world solves problems. Self-sacrificial love, even to the point of death, is how the kingdom of God solves problems.
I’ve got nothing against people getting guns. I used to have one and understand that it can be a fun hobby. But if my intent behind concealing weapons or purchasing weapons is protection, I’d need to consider how taking a life, for whatever reason, is undoing the works of the devil. How do I justify taking up arms to protect my life, or the lives of those I care about, when Jesus laid his down?
Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If we want to see peace in this world we’ve got to lay down any justification we give to violence in all its forms.
- Stop ignoring the racial divide
I think one of the biggest hindrances to racial reconciliation is the white populations resistance to recognizing that there is a problem with racism in America. The black population says, “Yes, there is,” and the white population says, “No, there’s not.” (I’m painting in broad strokes here and understand that not all black and white people fall into that).
We’ve got to be able to listen to the other side, to truly make an effort to understand their map, how they get from point A to point B. That’s what relationship is! But instead it seems like there’s a tendency from the white population to dismiss cries of racism when tragedy strikes the black community. The result is that the black community is made to feel small and insignificant and not heard at all. And that is about as anti-Christ as we can get.
The point is that just because we don’t understand how an incident could be race related it doesn’t mean it’s not. Take the time ask questions and understand where the other person is coming from and we’ll probably be surprised at what we learn.
And maybe this is helping me find some clarity in what can be done in the days moving forward. Keeping my eyes set on today and not on what could happen tomorrow is going to be a big deal for me, for us all. Remembering that I am called to be the body of Yeshua to a huge world full of people who need his love is another anchor that can keep me grounded. Self-sacrificial love is what destroys the works of the devil. There are opportunities all around me to plant the seeds, to lay part of the foundation in people’s hearts.
Sometimes we drift to a much broader view of the world than we can handle, one that makes us see the forest but forget the trees. The change we have the opportunity to create is often right in front of us. It’s that person at work or the neighbor we’ve been ignoring. The answer for the struggles of the world is in how each of us live our daily lives. Are we loving or not? Are we reflecting the true nature and character of God who desperately needs his kindness, or not?
That’s a wrap and take a look at the video below for a little extra!
Jesse and Kara Birkey