I stayed up far too late last night watching the reports roll in from my home city of Dallas, Texas; my heart heavy, my eyes damp. Protesters – peaceful protesters – gave eyewitness accounts of the mayhem. News anchors gave cautious updates: Officers injured. Officers in critical condition. One officer dead. Three officers dead. Four officers dead. And, this morning, five officers dead.
Dallasites, black and white, are calling out for unity. Churches are gathering together in prayer. One social media photo pictured a multi-racial prayer meeting in Bryan/College Station, TX. The tears pooled again because this is the color of the Church.
While we are sadly still stuck in “white churches” and “black churches,” there is no white Church, black Church or rainbow Church. There is Jesus’ Church. His Bride, washed in red, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” (Ephesians 5:27)
The cry is to pray for peace. And we should. We have to.
But I have bad news.
It is only going to get worse.
The prophet Jeremiah said:
“We looked for peace, but there was no good;
And for the time of healing, and there was trouble.” Jeremiah 14:19
And God reprimanded false prophets who put bandaids on gaping wounds saying,
“For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.” Jeremiah 8:11, 6:14
We live in an evil, fallen world and regardless of color, creed, or nationality, as the saying goes, “Haters gonna hate.”
You see, while the wounds are far from superficial, the battle goes far deeper. And it is uglier than the ugliest of headlines, nastier than the most hateful venom spewed on social media. The battle is not fought with guns, bombs, or policies because we fight an enemy that is looking for every opportunity to poke a finger into a hornet’s nest.
Satan will not give up. It will not get better before it gets much worse.
But I have good news.
It will get better. Jesus is coming back. He will reign forever in righteousness.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
I have more good news.
This offer is available for all who want it. (I love this part!)
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
But we don’t have to just sit around wailing, carrying our doomsday signs while we wait for Jesus to come. This isn’t an excuse to crawl into a cave in sackcloth bemoaning the dire straits. In fact, that isn’t allowed. Because a battle means war. It means fighting back.
That’s more good news.
It allows us to gather as happened today in Dallas, not in riots, but hand in hand in prayer. It allows for pastors, speakers, writers, and teachers to listen to the Holy Spirit and issue a call to action across our country. Each of us, every follower of Jesus, can choose to be a true disciple of Him. We can pray for the change He brings on the inside to reflect itself in change on the outside. It will look different in different communities, different churches, different individuals. But the goal will be the same.
This is how Jesus put it.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-color in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)
In ways that only God can enable us to love.
Add flavor to a world that only knows bitterness. Make those around thirsty for Jesus.
Shine out in a dark and angry world.
Wherever you are. Be a city on a hill.
Filter your Facebook comments through Truth. Not just fact.
Ask yourself, does this comment just prove my point
or does it make His Point?
And when you are asked to pray for Dallas or to pray for our nation or to pray for whatever city has been hit with senseless tragedy, I offer you the prayer of my sister Brittany Burnette of Shabby Chic Ministries and the College of Biblical Studies in Houston. Pray with us.
My heart is heavy, and I don’t know where to begin. So Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus and by Your Holy Spirit, may I begin and end with what is true.
God, You are sovereign, good, gracious, patient, and merciful. Thank You for the gift of Your Son, the Prince of Peace and the Great Reconciler. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who indwells Your people, convicts us of sin, and molds us into the image of Your Son. Thank You for the written Word that points to the Incarnate Word. Lord, You knew that we would need that Word in order to ground us and to help us in all moments of life, particularly moments like these.
Lord, help us. You are the Author and Creator of life. For that reason, every human life has intrinsic worth, and You count that life as precious. Therefore, when we devalue life, which You have made, we give affront to You. Lord, You exist as Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each Person is distinct and fully God, yet there is only one God. That unity and diversity and diversity in unity is spectacular. So we should not be surprised that You would reflect that unity and diversity in Your image bearers. In Your love and grace, You chose to make people in Your image, who bear Your likeness. You create men and women; they are beautifully distinct, and they are fully equal. Likewise, You create people of different races, backgrounds, and cultures; they are also beautifully distinct, and they are fully equal. So when we see another human being of any race or background, may You arrest our attention and remind us that the one upon whom we look is an image bearer, and therefore that person has worth. You love diversity because it exists within You, Godhead itself. So forgive us, Lord, when we hate what You love. We repent and ask for Your forgiveness. Help Your Church to be one, as You are one. And help us to proclaim the truth of who You are, both in word and in deed, to a world that desperately needs Your help.
What we feel and how we interact with others says not only something about how we view people, but it also shows what we think of You. And when we fail to love You and others well, then Your people must call it for what it is: sin. We repent of this, and we beg You for Your help. And we need Your help because You have called us to go out and make disciples from all people. We need to represent You, Lord. So help us to represent You to the families, friends, and loved ones of Mr. Sterling, Mr. Castile, and countless others within our communities of color. Help us to proclaim relentlessly and to demonstrate fearlessly that You are Lord over all creation. You see, honor, love, and treasure all people, including people of color. Therefore, as Your ambassadors, we must do the same. We must pursue love, justice, righteousness, and peace. This cannot be done well apart from You, so help us, Lord.
And Father, You grant some of us the special honor and privilege of serving and protecting others in a distinct way. We thank you for our police officers. Day after day, these men and women put on the uniform, and they enter a hostile world and work on the civilian’s behalf. They protect us; they serve us; and yes, sometimes they die for us. To those in the Dallas Police Department and in police departments across the country: we see you; we honor you; we love you; we treasure you. Forgive us, Lord, when we fail to respect those whom You have appointed to guard us. May we minister to all, including those officers involved in police-related shootings because we are the Church, and we withhold the ministry of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation from no one. Though we were hostile toward You, You sent Your Son to reconcile us to Yourself. So may all people of good will, especially the body of Jesus Christ, commit ourselves to your reconciling work.
Lord, we pray for Your shalom: yes, we ask for the peace, wholeness, wellness, completeness, and satisfaction that only You can bring. Mend what is fractured; repair what is broken. Reconcile us to one another as Your Son perfectly reconciles us to You. Father, bring us shalom and be our shalom; that can only come in one way, through the God-man, the Prince of Shalom, Jesus Christ.
Father, help us to be honest with You, ourselves, and one another about areas in which we need to love You and our neighbors more and better. Give us the wisdom and the strength of heart to engage others as Your Son consistently engages us. Use Your people to do Your work on this, Your earth, for our good and Your glory. And it is in the name of Jesus and by Your Spirit we pray. Amen.