We aren’t as innocent as we were
We woke up this morning to a different world. We woke up to a world where snipers in cities target police officers, and the body count ran up.
I don’t want to live in a violent society, and I don’t want my kids to live in a violent society, but I feel like we have a rough patch to go through before it gets any better. For the last twenty years, this has been building. I’m not talking about racial tensions, I felt they were getting better until the politicizing of several high profile cases in recent years. I hold the media and the current administration responsible for that. Instead of building bridges, they have spent time burning them down and building a wave of hatred that erupted last night.
They are not the only ones that I lay blame with.
I lay the rest of the blame on you and me. When the nightclub in Paris was attacked and more than 100 people were killed, we put up banners about praying for Paris, but we didn’t do anything more than that. When the nightclub in Orlando was attacked, we put up banners about praying for Orlando, but we didn’t do more than that. Now that five police officers are laying on cold slabs, with ungodly violations of their dead bodies grossly evident, what will we do?
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
- Martin Niemoller
The poem above kind of says it all. If you are willing to allow evil to take place and not denounce it when it happens to people who are NOT like you. You will ultimately allow it to happen to you. Evil is an all-consuming fire and it not stop because we want it to. It will not stop with new laws or a really cool Facebook banner. It only stops when we stop it. If we stop it through violence, we run the risk of becoming evil ourselves. We have to stop evil not with violence, but with love and understanding.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Preamble of the Declaration of Independence
There is a lot of wisdom in those words. The truth is self-evident, which means you can see the truth of that without having to search for proof. All men are created equal, they are created in the image of God, and given free will to make as much or as little out of their lives as they wish. There are unalienable rights, which means these rights cannot be separated from any man by any man. Among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These words make my throat tight and I need to blink a tear or two away. The truth, the absolute universal, unvarnished truth of these words is so honest and real that they are brutal in their simplicity.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
The above passage is Jesus telling his disciples to love one another, and throughout the New Testament we are told to love one another, we would love ourselves. But we don’t show that love. It’s was incredibly hard for me to hear the word love outside of my family. When my wife and I started going to small group on Wednesday night, when the leader told us she loved us, I didn’t know what to say. The word rang hollow to me. But now that I’ve done more growing and my heart has actually grown to allow more love, I can tell people that I love them, and I hope to love all men and women, in a brotherly, neighborly way.
So that brings us back to what are we to do? I commit to doing the following: I will no longer post or say anything that is hateful or mean spirited. I will not do that in a journal, I will not do that on any social media, I will not allow hateful or mean spirited words to cross my lips, and I will try very hard not to let that cross my mind. I will rebuke myself when I fail in that respect. I will pray for this nation every night. I will ask God to pour out His love so that all can feel the heart He has for us. I will reach out and help anybody, of any race, creed, color, religion or circumstance that I can. I will also set up a day of prayer on Sunday, July 31st so we can all take a moment and ask God to help us be better people, and to love our fellow man in a way that will be pleasing to God.
We are not so innocent any more. We woke up in a different world this morning. However, as I find myself in that different world, I find that there is no room for hatred in my heart. I will love, and spread love and understanding, more than any hatred or discord.
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Father, we are heartbroken. We have allowed ourselves to become self-centered, sarcastic and skeptical. We do not listen to you, nor do we seek you daily. In our arrogance we have become accepting of hatred and evil in our very midst. Help us to become more loving and understanding. Give us boldness to stand up to evil. Help us praise you and keep you as the Holy God you are. Help us to love. Let us see the dignity in every single man and woman on this earth. There is no room for hatred in our hearts. Help us understand your plan, and how we can work within it. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.