Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Brent Thompson. Patrick Zamarripa. Michael Krol. Lorne Ahrens. Mike Smith.
These are the names of the men who died recently. They were all human beings, created in the image of God. They were all people that Jesus bled and died for. That gives each one of them great worth and should merit our grief at their passing.
Based on what I heard in a sermon today, this is what I believe we should do in light of these recent tragic events.
- Pray. Pray a lot. I don’t mean the polite and genteel kind of praying that you do before meals or in Sunday School. I mean the kind where you come boldly before the throne of grace with sighs and groans and tears of intercession. Pray like the life of the nation depended on it, because it very well may.
- Don’t jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts. It’s typical to assume that a) anyone shot by a police officer must automatically be a criminal and a thug in the very act of committing a heinous crime or b) that any police officer who shots anyone of color must automatically be a racist. The mistake Job’s friends made was trying to figure out who to blame instead of trying to ease the pain of Job’s suffering.
- The best thing Job’s friends did throughout the story was what they did first. They sat down in silence with their friend in his grief and pain. They didn’t offer words. They offered their presence. Maybe more than all our explanations or arguments what people need from us is our comforting presence, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
- Confess that while we may not be racists, that’s not enough. Too many of us watch in silence and do nothing in the face of great evil. Our silence often equates to our consent of the evil. We must repent of a long history of impeding the quest for racial equality and harmony. We must do better to love our neighbors who don’t look and speak and act like us.
I must confess that I have too often rushed to hasty judgment instead of rushing to my knees in prayer. I confess that I have harbored prejudicial thoughts toward those different than I. I confess that I was one of the ones who gave consent to evil by my silence rather than speaking out against the wrong.
Lord, forgive us all. Lord, make us one as you are One. Lord, help us to love our neighbors and ourselves as you have loved us.