“Close call.” Posted my friend and former college classmate Nancy (Clendening) Reaves.
Saturday evening, Nancy and her husband, Brownie, a preaching colleague of mine, were driving through Atlanta. Suddenly, Nancy, recounted, “A young black man ran out onto Hwy 85 intending to harm whoever was in the next car. It. Was. Me. He threw a big rock at my car window. Brownie was driving. It hit the door rim and was two inches from hitting me.”
Yes, “Black Lives Matter,” Nancy affirmed. “What happened was horrible and unjust. We all get it. There is a small fraction of bad cops. There are many, many more who help and defend and care about keeping us safe. Their lives matter too.”
“White lives matter too,” she correctly opined “How does hurting a random person change what happened?”
Suddenly what I was seeing on TV became very real. Friends of mine were threatened. Their lives were put in danger because of the racial tensions stirred by a rogue cop in Minneapolis.
What can we do? How should Christians respond to the tension, racial unrest and violence all around us? Here’s six things we can all do to let our light shine in a sin-darkened world.
1. We Can Pray.
I trust you are praying every day about this terrible situation. If not, begin now. Pray for peace. Pray for our leaders to make correct decisions. Pray for police officers everywhere. Pray for the families affected by George Floyd’s death. Pray for our black brothers and sisters who are hurting, angry and feel the ugly sting of racism.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6)
2. Respond to evil with good.
As Bob Russell wrote in a blog post, “Don’t get “sucked into the cycle of hatred. There’s an old saying, ‘You become what you hate.’”
The agitators, not the peaceful protestors, are stirring up strife. There’s a lot of theories about who they are, where they’re from and what they’re motives are. But one thing is for sure, they are returning evil for evil. The other night, an angry African-American screamed into the TV camera,– “One of ours – two of yours!”
Let’s break that cycle. In our social media posts, in our interactions with others, and within our own hearts, let’s follow Jesus’ counsel in the Mountain Message.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:45).
3. Emphasize and sympathize with those who are hurting.
As a white male, I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man in America. But I need to care. Feel compassion. Show concern. And try to understand. While we’ve come a long way in race relations during my life time, there is still work to be done.
We know that Jesus understands the pain and problems that we all encounter and endure. As His followers, he calls on us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful (I Pet. 3:8; Lk. 6:36).
4. Eradicate racism from your heart, and oppose racism.
The Bible teaches that in the Body of Christ there are no racial distinctions. “All are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). That being true, our attitude and actions towards those of a different race, nationality or ethnicity ought not to be colored by prejudice, partiality, or bigotry.
A friend observed from yesterday’s post, that the cop who killed George Floyd may not be a racist. He may just be a bad cop toward all races. Maybe. But racial tensions have been stirred nonetheless. So, it’s an occasion for all of us to look inside ourselves and cleanse ourselves of any impurity of thought toward our fellow man. Of course, this cuts both ways. To both blacks and whites.
5. Refuse to pigeon-hole others into a narrow category.
The cops I know are not like Derek Chauvin. The black men I know are not like the one who threw the rock at my friend, or the young man screaming into the TV camera, or the ones setting fires and burning down buildings.
In the sentiment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. let’s judge others not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
6. Remember the answer to our nation’s ills is the gospel of Christ.
The Devil divides us. Sin ensnares us. And evil people go from bad to worse. The only cure is Christ. And His Gospel. My friend and preaching colleague, Dan DeGarmo recently posted this truth on facebook. “If you spend your entire life fighting the wars of social justice and you don’t tell one person about Jesus, you have failed.”
It’s the gospel that changes hearts. Redirects lives. Purifies motives. Removes guilt. Improves society. Ennobles purpose. Eradicates barriers. Cleanses us from sin. And saves the soul.
The problems of our nation won’t be solved by Republicans or Democrats. Or by legislation. Or the overthrow of America. Following the principles enunciated by Jesus is the only answer.
Finally, “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thess. 5:15).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman