Dealing With The Dallas Shooting — A Christian Perspective!
As I reflect on this past week, my heart breaks over the loss of life regardless of skin color, gender, age or marital status. The past week has the stench of bloodshed. We saw the cell phone videos of black men killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, LA and Falcon Heights, MN. We saw a terrorist ambush on innocent police officers in Dallas, which killed five officers and injured seven more. The country reels beneath all this violence.
I recently finished preaching a series titled, “Faces Of Grace.” We saw in the series that Jesus was the ultimate example of the ‘Face Of Grace.’ Jesus crossed class, religion, gender and racial barriers, from a woman caught in adultery, to a Samaritan woman, a tax collector and a leper. The challenge every week was that Jesus was the ultimate “Face Of Grace,” and in the same way, we must be the daily faces of grace.
How Should Churches And Christians Respond To The Tragic Events Of Last Week?
1. We Need To Pray Specifically For The Families Of All Those Killed
Regardless of race, gender, occupation or circumstances, the fact remains, life was lost. Parents lost their children, wives lost their husbands and children lost their fathers. In Genesis 4, we see the first murder that was committed when Cain killed Abel. Even after killing Abel, Cain’s anger didn’t subside and his bitterness was not quenched. Therefore, we must pray for all those struggling with the loss of their loved ones and realize that murder never solves our ultimate sin problem.
As you pray, consider this passage: Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)
2. We Need To Mourn The State Of Our Nation
The state of our nation’s race relations is something to lament for sure. Our hearts and minds find it inconceivable that race relations in this country have sunk to such a tragic level.
As you pray, consider praying: “…Have compassion on your servants. 14Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 15Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. 16May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendor to their children. 17May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of Our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:13-17)
3. We Must Always Look To Scripture For Guidance In All Situations, Including Crisis Situations
Biblical Truth #1: The Sanctity Of All Human Life And The Sin Of Murder
One of the saddest developments in our country over the years is the devaluing of life; however, God views all life as special and significant. Every person is created in the image of God and, therefore; life is special regardless of age, social status, race or gender. Accordingly, the taking of life is deemed reprehensible and murder is not taken lightly by God. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
Biblical Truth #2: The Unity Of The Church As The Global People Of God
The church is to be sort of a heaven on earth. It is a color-blind place in which race, gender, marital status and income do not matter. In the New Testament church, race and gender were all people thought about. In their minds as new Christians, they naturally ranked people as to whether they were a Jew or a Gentile, as well as how much money they had or earned. To combat this, the Apostle Paul challenged these new believers with the fact that once you are a believer none of that matters, and that truth still holds true today. However, as God’s children, we need to say a collective “Not Here” when it comes to racism or classism.
In Your Prayers For Unity, Consider Reading And Praying Through These Passages And Confessing Any Racism That Might Be In Your Heart:
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:11-22)
Biblical Truth #3: The Mandate For Justice To Be Impartial
The impartiality of justice is another important biblical truth on which we need to focus. Even recently, we have seen some who seemed to have skirted true justice simply because they are powerful or seemingly above the law, while others who are of a lower social status seemed to have had the proverbial book thrown at them.
As you pray for the impartiality of justice, remember these words from scripture which say: “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the Lord detests them both.” (Proverbs 17:15)
Biblical Truth #4: The Importance Of Earthly Governments And The High Calling Of Those Responsible For Civil Order And Safety
The importance of earthly governments and the high calling of those responsible for civil order and safety cannot be understated. Throughout scripture, we are told that earthly governments, although imperfect, have a very important role in keeping the peace and protecting the people. In the New Testament, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was the leader of the Roman government. He was the man biblical writers simply referred to as Nero. Nero was anything but a good or godly man. His lifestyle was about as immoral as any who had come before him or would come after him. Beyond that, Nero would soon initiate incredible persecution of Christians and the church.
If there ever was a government or leader that a Christian might expect the Apostle Paul to recommend disobeying, it was Nero. However; Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, encouraged Christians to be in subjection to earthly governments. Paul affirmed that although earthly governments are imperfect at best, they are given by God to keep the overall peace of the citizenry.
As You Pray For Our Government And Those In Authority Over Us, Read This Passage:
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7)
Biblical Truth #5: There Will Always Be Bad Apples
One doesn’t have to search scripture much to find that there are always bad apples in every group. As Kings, Saul and David were miles apart when it came to their character and leadership styles. Saul always cared about Saul first and not much else. David, on the other hand, was a man after “God’s Own Heart.” Even so, David wasn’t a perfect leader. In the New Testament, not even all of the disciples were good apples. Remember the guy named Judas who betrayed Christ and sold Him for a few pieces of silver. Even Peter didn’t respond correctly to questions and denied being a Jesus follower three times.
The truth of bad apples can be seen even to this day. There are good teachers and bad ones, there are good pastors and bad ones, there are good politicians and bad ones, there are good business leaders and bad ones, just like there are good police officers and bad ones. In every one of those institutions, it should be noted that the vast majority are good and looking to do the right thing. We can never let one bad apple destroy our opinion of the whole batch.
As You Pray, Consider Reading These Passages:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by Him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 18Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” (1 Peter 2:13-21)
There Is Always Good News In The Present And In Eternity To Come
- In The Present:
We are blessed with the knowledge that God is able to bring good from bad. My prayer is that our city and nation will come together through these tragedies, and with God’s help we can. It does already appear that in some areas the light is overcoming the darkness.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
- In Eternity To Come:
A week, month or year filled with violence serves as a reminder of our own mortality. Violence also reminds each and every one of us of the sinfulness of the world, which compels us to long for a time of good news when all this senseless violence will stop. Scripture is very clear about the fact that the day is coming, and what a beautiful day that will be.
However, the ultimate good news won’t be found in the next president, it won’t come from congressional legislation and it won’t come in the form of the next decision by the Supreme Court. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His death, burial and
resurrection, provides the ultimate answer to the sinfulness of the world.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
Since we live in the present, we need to always live with these thoughts in mind. ALL life is precious to God. Mourn the state of race relations in our nation, and pray for change. Rely on Scripture for guidance during this difficult time. And, actively create positivity wherever you are as it relates to race, politics, civil authority, and social justice.
John Mark Caton, Ph.D