Wisdom For Your Weekend: Responding To This Week’s Violence
This has been an incredibly violent and volatile week for our nation. I (Chris) began the week mourning for the loss of life abroad, as ISIS continued to terrorize innocent lives, killing hundreds in Baghdad. But the rest of the week brought violence much closer to home. On Wednesday, we woke up to a disturbing video showing an African American man, Alton Sterling, being shot and killed by a police officer in Louisiana. On Thursday, we woke up to another disturbing video, this one of Philando Castile in Minnesota. And today, we woke up to the news of a mass shooting in Dallas, this time directed at police officers. Eleven officers were shot, and five died.
These have been heavy days. We at the Summit have wept together, prayed together, and reached out to both our African American brothers and sisters and to many of our brothers and sisters in law enforcement to say, “We are here and hurting with you.” The responses to these events have been varied, but I have had a hard time moving beyond this simple fact: men who were made in the image of God are now dead. Surely, whatever else we disagree on, we can agree that this is a time to mourn.
Many of my African American friends have pointed out that these events make them feel as if they have no voice and no value. Our response as a church must be clear: African American men and women have a value and dignity given by God, and their lives are tremendously precious. They are just as important as the police officers who died. And they are just as important as the refugees who are displaced, who are just as important as those slaughtered by ISIS. These people matter because they matter to God.
So this is a time to mourn. It is also a time to listen. Ask your black neighbors how they are feeling, and empathize with them. Don’t argue. Speak to a police officer and listen to what he has to say. We in the church are a family, and many in our family are hurting. Let’s listen in and hurt together.
This is also a time to hold out the gospel. Our society is fractured and fraying. It doesn’t know the way forward. But we who know the gospel have a hope in the midst of tragedy. When we look to the news and only see a cycle of hatred and violence, we may be tempted to despair. But as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
These are dark days, but not hopeless ones. I was struck this week, reading through Nehemiah, at how God’s people rallied together, literally shoulder to shoulder, to build and repair the city walls. In the midst of danger and trials and political turmoil, men from all walks of life came together to build. This is a picture of where we are as a church: though our society may fall to pieces around us, what Christ is building through his church will endure. His light can still conquer the darkness and his love can still overcome hatred.
All of the following resources are from our previous reflections on racial diversity and racial tension. They’re relevant and needed again today.
Video of the Week
We Still Have a Dream, Curtis Andrusko & Chuck Reed. We shared this video earlier this year in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Sanctity of Life Sunday. It is still our prayer and our dream to see men and women from every ethnic background sing out, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last!”
Sermons of the Week
No Partiality – Tearing Down Walls that Separate Us: Acts 10, Raudel Hernandez & Chris Green. During our series through the book of Acts, two of our pastors look at a famous New Testament scene to show how racial tensions dissolve in the light of the gospel.
“Standing in God’s Way” of Racial Integration: Acts 10:34–11:17, J.D. Greear. Also during our Sent series through the book of Acts, Pastor J.D. takes up the same topic as Raudel and Chris, further reinforcing that issues of racial tension aren’t just an “issue” for minorities. They are a priority for God and for his entire church.
Articles of the Week
Why Pursue Racial Diversity in the Church? J.D. Greear. This is the first in a 7-part series on racial diversity in the church—showing why it’s necessary, why it’s difficult, and how we can hope to achieve it. Our society desperately wants to see peace and unity, but doesn’t know how to achieve it. Only in the gospel do we have the power to overcome the violence of our current moment and to see unity that crosses ethnic lines. There is, in the end, only one race—the human race. There is one common problem—sin. And for every last one of us, there is a common solution—the blood of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Doesn’t Produce Sameness; It Produces Oneness, Chris Green. Using Tony Evans helpful book, Oneness Embraces, Pastor Chris shows us a way that we can pursue oneness even in the midst of our differences. It starts with awareness, but it can’t end there. We’ve got to move beyond mere awareness, to interaction, and beyond interaction, to gospelized community. As Pastor Chris says, “The world might be able to work up to multi-ethnic interaction, but it can’t offer anything else. We know a secret they don’t: grace.”
Two Pastors—One White, One Black—Reflect Together on Ferguson, J.D. Greear & Chris Green. This was written shortly after Michael Brown, an African American man, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. That tragedy brought national attention to the persisting problems of racial tension, which prompted two of our pastors to dialogue about it together. Much of their discussion, particularly about the way we respond to these tragic events, is just as relevant today.
Why We Fail to Progress Past Ferguson, J.D. Greear. Also written in the midst of the national attention directed at Ferguson, Missouri, this post reflects on one major reason we fail to see more progress in race relations. As Philippians 2 notes, we need to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Many of us simply aren’t listening to those on the “other” side. We in the majority culture especially need to “give more” than we expect minority cultures to give.
Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”