I hope & pray that the church begins looking at this difficult topic through a biblical, gospel-focused lens rather than see all of it as a political issue.
Death is constantly happening all around our city. In these specific encounters where minorities or police are shot and killed, people are grieving over losing a loved one. The minority civilians, whether they are gang members or not, were created by God and loved by others. The officers shot down in the line of duty are God’s image bearers and loved by others as well. There is pain and suffering everywhere and we have opportunities to pray, speak the hope of the gospel into those circumstances, and provide comfort that we have experienced from the Father (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). One of the marks of a Christian in Romans 12 is to weep with those who weep. To be a Christian is to respond to the hurts and pains of others with compassion.
When an African-American or Latino is shot and killed by law enforcement or if an officer is shot, our reactions should never be one of rejoicing or thinking they “deserved” it. Would we come alongside the grieving family with that sort of response? If we were grieving over the loss of a loved one, would we want someone who lacked compassion or understanding to walk alongside us in that way? It baffles and saddens me when I hear or read about professing believers assessing one of these situations and speaking in a harsh, unloving manner about the victims. It seems to be more common when civilians are shot but either way I hope Christians cultivate a heart that breaks over these circumstances rather than speaking in an unloving way.
Weeping with those who weep doesn’t just include deaths but also other issues that plague communities. Within our cities and around our country, we have consistently seen hostility, discomfort, lack of trust, frustration and fear from many minorities towards the police. An uneasy guard is up within many minority communities due to past experiences. Those experiences can include unfair treatment, stereotyping, racism, physical abuse, and unfortunately death. Many throughout our country continually voice concerns and frustrations about problems within police departments. For Christians, I think it’s important to listen to those hurts and frustrations and pray for those who have been affected. There are various communities in Los Angeles that endure many of these situations. We should not assume everyone has a similar experience with police. Instead of looking to constantly find the wrong with minorities, perhaps Christians can come alongside and weep with those who’ve been mistreated, seeking to listen and learn about their experiences. Each situation is different but there is a consistent outcry. We must take the time to listen to minorities within our own circles/churches and learn how they process or wrestle through these issues. We can be praying and speaking the hope of the gospel into those hurts and frustrations if we get an opportunity. We can also see the injustices and hurts of our communities and pray God can bring reconciliation and hope.
Weeping must also take place with law enforcement when they endure the hardships of their job. Many are often confronted with incredibly difficult situations that many of us don’t have to encounter. There is extreme pressure and many are trying to serve the community in an upright way. God has set them in a place of authority and even though some may misuse this position to act wrongfully towards civilians, there are many within the departments who are doing their job and trying to exercise sound judgment and bring about safe communities. We must also consider what they go through and weep with them when the difficulties of their jobs affect them or their families. They can be mistreated, stereotyped, or threatened, experiencing the same hostility, discomfort, lack of trust, frustration, and fear that civilians feel. Our hearts should break for the police as well as the communities they serve. The church can come alongside to pray and speak gospel truth into the situations affecting law enforcement. Weeping doesn’t mean you’re “choosing a side” or condoning certain actions; it reflects a heart that breaks over the fallen, sinful world and systems we live in and looking upwards for hope and comfort that can touch down on those situations.
There is so much more that can be said regarding police and minority issues. I hope & pray that the church begins looking at this difficult topic through a biblical, gospel-focused lens rather than see all of it as a political issue. When there are fallen people living in a fallen world with fallen authorities, the reality is this will continue to happen. We read in Colossians 3:12-14 about putting on, as God’s chosen and beloved children, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and love. As these scenarios continue to play out in communities we should cultivate the heart that Paul writes about here in Colossians 3. Let us pray, comfort, speak truth and hope, and come alongside to grieve with those who are hurting in our city.
Danny Neiditch is the founder and CEO of Prodigal Sons, Inc. Born and Raised in LA, Danny is a diehard Dodgers, Lakers, and street tacos fan. You can find him on Twitter @dannyneiditch.