Monday, August 11, 2014

Do Not Retaliate - A Candid Response To The Violence In Ferguson MO

When bad things happen, I think it is only normal for our first human (i.e. non-Christian) reaction to be anger or desire to retaliate.  What happened wasn't fair and so we should DO something.  We should somehow take action, to get vengeance.

All throughout the Bible, God instructs us not to retaliate.  That vengeance is his and his alone.

It has made national news that the shooting of an 18 year old boy by police has lead to rioting and looting.  One of my favorite stores ever, QuikTrip, was looted and set on fire.  The Ferguson Walmart was also looted overnight and there were hundreds of police in the area trying to regain control overnight.  I don't know if it was a case of injustice against the man or if the police officer was within his rights to protect himself.  After some sort of struggle inside the police car, after allegedly assaulting a police officer, (according to the media), the struggle was taken outside the vehicle and the young man was shot several times, leading to his death.

Outrage became the response and the Ferguson area became a complete mess of people retaliating with crime and hate.  And once again, a police shooting, whatever the motivation or reasoning behind it, has become a race issue.

I try to avoid writing about hot topics.  I don't talk about my views on race, homosexuality, abortion.  I do not like confrontation at all and so I avoid it, especially in a public setting like this.  But my heart is heavy this morning over this issue that not only hits close to my heart, but extremely close to my home.  We are just minutes away from the area where this took place, and I know and have frequented some of these looted stores.

And if my heavy heart wasn't enough to lead me to write this, looking at the verse of the day app on my phone, I knew I couldn't keep it all in.  The mother of the man shot said the violence was disrespectful to her son's memory.  Even she knew that it was senseless.  In her deepest pain and grief, she could acknowledge that this so-called retaliation against the police and raging against the world in general was not right.

Summing up:  Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble.  That goes for all of you, no eceptions.  No retaliation.  No sharp-tongued sarcasm.  Instead, bless--that's your job, to bless.  You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing  Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good,
Here's what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth.  God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.
1 Peter 3:8-12 MSG

The two things that stood out for me when I read this, shortly after watching the Ferguson footage, were this:

NO retaliation.

Run after peace for all you're worth.

If those two things had happened this weekend, we would not see this national news coverage of the response to yet another senseless tragedy.  And it isn't just this issue in North County where I live.  It is happening throughout the world.  Retaliation and running away from peace at all costs.  This is the opposite of how God has called us to live.

And just to get a little closer to home and personal, there is one verse in particular that I'll admit to struggling with.  "No sharp-tongued sarcasm."  Boy did that convict me!  Of all the things I am guilty of, this is a big one.  Especially when I am upset, angry, or in pain.  It is such a struggle for me.  It all works against peace.  And peace is the life we have been called to.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18


We all have a part to play in this.

We are all called to live at peace.  Not just with those of the same race.   Not just with those who share the same beliefs on those hot button issues.  Not just with those we love.

We are to live at peace with EVERYONE.

So for me, I know it is my duty to practice peace.  And practice it has to be.  It is not a habit, and it does not come easy to me.  It requires me humbling myself and choosing to care for others more than I care for myself.  What does rioting and looting communicate or prove to anyone?  NOTHING.  Absolutely nothing.  What happened in Ferguson this weekend was so far against living at peace, and is so outside of God's call on our lives.

We have to stop retaliating and start practicing peace.  That's how we change.  Not only ourselves, but our communities and the world around us.

It is only through peace.

Rich Mullins understood this concept and I think he expressed it so eloquently through this song:

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