Hot Summer Violence
Mary had already gone to bed and I was reading one of my Kindle Books when the headlines started to come through –sniper fire in downtown Dallas. Police officers down. Three of my friends are Dallas Officers. One of my closest friend’s sons is an officer for DART and two of my present students at Southern Bible are officers with the Dallas Sheriff Department. Are they on duty? Are they okay? What’s going on?
The next day I discovered the officers I know were all safe, but all of us are still stunned by the fact that Micah Johnson murdered four Dallas Officers, one DART officer, wounding seven others and two civilians. His explosive violent response to the police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota flamed his anger resulting in the deadliest attack against law enforcement in the Unites States since 9-11. His assault was only blocks away from Dealey Plaza where JFK was assassinated.
Even in the riots in Watts, Detroit, and Newark in the hot summers of the late 60s we didn’t see five officers murdered by sniper fire. The violence must stop, but what can we do to help stop it?
Like attracts like and opposites repel. If you want to grow a church, you don’t want diversity. You want homogeneity. An entire generation of church leaders has been taught this received wisdom, but if those who believe in Jesus can’t even worship together across racial divides, then where is the hope for a culture to unite and understand? Where is the power of Jesus to reach all people groups with His grace?
To be honest my faith is small. For forty years I ministered in a town where many whites had re-settled after their childhood towns became dominantly black. For the last seven years much of my teaching ministry has been at Southern Bible Institute in Oak Cliff where it’s 99% black. When it comes to Jesus and the Bible these two racial groups of believers agree, but mention “Black lives matter” and the “war against cops,” and often radically different viewpoints erupt with heat and intensity.
The chasm between the races in this hot summer is growing and my faith is still small. Then I listen to my Savior and what He has to say when the disciples ask Him to increase their faith.
“And the apostles said to Him, ‘Increase our faith.’ And the Lord said, ‘If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this sycamine, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
Now which of you has a servant out plowing or shepherding when he comes in from the field, says to him, ‘Come, right now, recline on the couch to eat?’ On the contrary will you not say to your servant, ‘Prepare what I will eat for dinner, dress yourself appropriately and then serve me until I eat and drink. After these things, then you will eat and drink?’ Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? In this same manner when you do all the things commanded say, ‘We are worthless servants for we what we were obligated to do, we have done.” Luke 17:5-10
When it comes to this powerful thing called faith, it’s not the amount that counts. It’s who our faith is in.
LORD, generate friendships between believers of different races that will open up times to talk about our different points of view when it comes to the horrible tensions convulsing our society. In the hearts of your children uproot racial prejudice and drown it in the depths of the Sea. Help me to simply keep serving You, not dependent upon the results I see.
Note: When shots are fired and bodies are down, it’s a little late for open discussion and understanding. Large, unified, multi-racial prayer vigils help, but I’d like to see some black believers having a cup of coffee with white believers simply as friends. Maybe if we drink coffee together we might begin to talk and understand. Maybe it could even move towards worshiping together.
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