Dallas, Orlando, and The Great Divide

Dallas, what happened?

I woke up this morning, blissfully unaware of the headlines, and I’m in shock now.  “Police Brutality”, “The Orlando Massacre”, and now this.  We are hemorrhaging lives to this thing called prejudice, and I’m sickened by the violence.  I hope that doesn’t make me naïve, but I have to wonder…when is it enough?  Are we done yet?

The coffins are filling and hearts are empty and broken, loved ones are weeping, and the hate and blame is piling higher than the body count.  I’m sad that this is the world I am releasing my children into.  Aren’t you?  My mother’s heart can’t help but think about the aching arms of those whose loved ones are dead.  The widows.  The now fatherless.  The family of every casualty on both sides of the issues…my heart bleeds for them all.  Death hits hard.

The blood coagulating on our streets is not about deadly force and it’s use (or misuse.)  It’s not about race.  It goes deeper than skin color or a uniform or lifestyle choices.

We have an enemy.  This may come as a shock, but it’s not each other.  We are made in the image of God, and Satan hates us because of that.  He doesn’t care who dies, he just wants death.  Death of relationships, death of trust and kindness, and yes, blood in the streets and God help us, staining our hands.

The real issue that we’ve lost in all the other huge issues is that we’ve forgotten who the real enemy is.  We may not be able to agree on anything else, but could we come together and agree that Satan wants us to revel in our hate and mistrust of each other?  He wants us keep on ignoring the villain in the shadows.  He wants us to bathe in our own self-righteousness and anger.  He wants us whispering and backstabbing, resenting and misunderstanding each other.  He wants us screaming in rage at one another, forgetting the value of life, and drunk on how wrong they are.

He wants us all to do the wrong thing, assume the worst, and damn and curse each other until the blood and the tears mingle in one sickening mess.  Are our heads so clouded by all the issues that we’ve forgotten the most basic of things?  How can any issue trump the truth that the loss of any life is tragic?

How warped is this thinking that allows people to perpetrate their point of view on others and literally, cold-bloodedly gun down the opposition?  49 in Orlando.  5 in Dallas.  This wasn’t against any of the victims personally, it was an attack on them as symbols.  Icons of disagreement, you might say.

What divides us is not that we cannot agree on vital issues.

It’s the prejudice in our hearts that segregates us.  It divides me against you, us against them.  The perpetrators of this horrifying violence were driven by their prejudice, and it’s easy to see how wrong they were.

But what about the bias and hatred in our own hearts?

How easy it is to point fingers and lock arms and throw rocks and tear gas at each other, and how hard to fall on our knees and repent of prejudice and intolerance and pride.  It’s hard to search our own hearts, and easier by far to catalogue the faults and failings of others.  It’s easier to shatter some one else’s window than to clean our own smudged panes.  Easier in the moment to break someone else’s heart than to admit that our own is fractured by sin.

No, we wouldn’t ambush a nightclub or shoot a police officer.  But do we look down on others with differing views?  Do we refuse to examine our own beliefs?  It’s hard to admit when we’re wrong, and even harder to stand for the right thing in the right way.

Hardest of all is to see the broken pieces, the broken people, the profound and troubling issues that we face as a nation, and speak truth about it.  The truth is that we deeply and desperately need Jesus.  The victims and loved ones affected by the Orlando massacre need Jesus.  The officers and suspects and families involved in the fatal shootings need Jesus.  The officers and gunmen and families in Dallas need Jesus.  And no, I am not oversimplifying things.  You and I, outraged by the injustices splashed all over the headlines, filled with our opinions and ideas and yes, prejudices…oh, how we need Jesus.

Jesus is not a magic wand that wipes away all the problems.  But there is no getting to the root of the deep-seated prejudice we face without Him.  We live in a world profoundly warped by sin, and there are no easy answers.  In the aftermath of such tragedies, it’s easy to brush aside the headlines since we don’t know what to do with them.  Let’s not do that.

Dallas, we weep with you.

But tears aren’t enough, and so:

  • When I see goodness, I’ll celebrate it.  When I see evil, I’ll condemn it.  Regardless of who is doing it, I will call it like I see it.  And I will recognize that I don’t see it or know it all.
  • I will teach my kids as I daily remind myself that the great divide in our nation is a cosmic struggle, and that Satan is the real enemy.
  • I’m taking our issues, and I’m especially taking my issues to my knees.  I’m going to ask God to sift my heart of prejudice and bitterness and pride, and I’m going to repent of self-righteousness.  Maybe someone will join me, and together we can pray for this beautiful, messy, broken nation.

May God help us all.

 

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