“It’s Been a Heart-Wrenching Week, America” July 08 2016

It’s Been a Heart-Wrenching Week, America.

We had another blog ready to post for this week, but we could not ignore the events of the last few days in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, Texas.  What is a believer in Christ to think, say, and do?

While we have to trust that all the details of these events will be sorted out over time, and the facts will be pulled together and justice served in all three cases, we can understand the words of the Dallas police chief that “We don’t feel much support most days.  Lets not make today most days.”

This situation reminded me of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 9:36 “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”  “Distressed and dispirited” is a pretty accurate description of what a lot of people are experiencing at this moment.  Jesus’ expression of compassion for the people was immediately followed by Jesus’ well-known call to action: “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.’”  In other words, disciples, “lets be active in telling people where the true hope lies.”

The fact that law enforcement is necessary is a daily reminder to us of the propensity of the human race toward sin (see Romans 13).  And it is because of sin that law enforcement is such a difficult and dangerous job. Law enforcement is a means by which we realize that we fail to live the way we ought. Scripture identifies this failure as sin, a problem of the heart. The only remedy for sin is a heart that is transformed through a relationship with Christ.  Those of us who have been forgiven and have been accepted into God’s family realize that we could have easily remained sheep without a shepherd, but for God’s grace.   Even then, we still have temptations and propensities toward sin, but we are no longer slaves to sin, like we once were.  As John Bradford, the 16th century martyr, was reported to have said when witnessing the execution of criminals “There but for the grace of God go I.”

There is no place for racism in our society or in the church.  In fact, the teaching of Galatians 3:28 was revolutionary in its day and is still so pertinent today:  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  

We should not be vengeful in our response. Even when dealing with wickedness, our focus should be on doing good to others. Doing good does not, however, mean that we let evil continue. Doing good in dealing with those who do wrong means that we help them to see that they cannot continue unchecked in their sinful ways. Consequences for sin are the ways in which people recognize they have a problem in their hearts.

Like Jesus, we ache for our society, because the answers to the world’s problems are so clear.   All these events cry out to us that a transformed life through a relationship with Christ is the only real solution, yet the world is turning ever faster in the other direction.  All other paths and “solutions” deal only with the symptoms of the problem.  The power of the gospel, the good news of Christ is that it deals with the root cause – the heart.  

May we take Jesus’ words to heart and pray that others would hear, understand, and respond to the only message that gets to the true, transformed “heart” of the matter.  May God bless America and particularly our men and women of law enforcement who are out there daily, selflessly, putting their own lives on the line for us.  

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Steve Smith