We cry out to God as we see and experience the brokenness in our world. Recently, a handful of shootings have resulted in lives lost and hearts unsettled. North Shore Community Baptist Church is part of the denomination Converge (formerly Baptist General Conference). The President of Converge has written this response and call to prayer for the recent Dallas, Louisiana and Minnesota shootings:
It was only a few days ago we came together to celebrate another year of freedom for our country. Yet in the past few days several atrocities have broken our hearts, inflamed our emotions and divided our nation. Public outrage over the altercations between police with Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota prompted gatherings across our country with the goal of drawing attention to much-needed systemic reform. I am grateful we live in a country where we have this freedom to speak our minds.
Unfortunately, what was designed as a peaceful protest in Dallas was manipulated by some with evil intent, resulting (at the time of this writing) in the death of five and the wounding of 10 police officers. While in each case we still await the full story, all three scenarios had the same tragic result–the senseless loss of life. This is a very difficult time to know how to respond. I have worked hard this week to try to live out James 1:19: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For the anger of man does not achieve the righteous life that God desires.” I want to respond in a way that honors Christ and helps people meet, know and follow Jesus.
At times like this we all need to be reminded that Scripture is clear on how Christians should respond to crisis. The New Testament was written in a time of great adversity–government officials were corrupt, laws were unfair, Christians were persecuted–when society was broken. Yet in the midst of this, the apostle Paul gives these instructions:
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-19, 21).
Paul reminded the believers of his time that disappointment in present circumstances is not a license for unrighteousness action. Human government is fallible, society is fallen and life is not fair. Therefore we should be careful not put all our hope in government getting it right (not that we shouldn’t work toward improvement), nor are we to take matters into our own hands. We are to work to resolve the differences with patience, righteousness and faith. Yet, regardless of whether or not the issues are ever fully resolved (revenge is not an option), we are challenged to put our hope in God and to point people to Jesus.
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul reminds us: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
It is time for Christians to pray. It is time for Christians to go to the only One who has the power to intervene, demolish strongholds and cause real change. We should pray for our leaders/officials (Rom. 13) to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly (Micah 6:8), for God to comfort the families who lost loved ones (2 Cor. 1:4), for the protection of all and for anything else God puts on our hearts that is in line with Scripture.
There has never been a time when the church was more necessary in our country. Pray that God, with his divine power, will use the church to transform our communities, laws and country. However, understand this: real change in our community and country must begin with each of us allowing God to work on our hearts. We must pray for God to change us first.
Christians, in this very difficult moment, your people don’t need to hear my opinion or yours on social media–they need to hear from God. Call a prayer meeting. Point to God. Speak from Scripture. Give hope in Jesus. Beg for God’s intervention. Engage your community. Live righteously. Show compassion. Model the gospel. Show the difference that Christ makes. Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.