I really can’t fully capture all of the emotions I felt when I saw video footage of Alton Sterling’s brutal and senseless death. I was equally overwhelmed by the many thoughts that ran through my head, all seemingly at the same time:
Not again…WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL HIM?!! He’s wasn’t a threat to you!!! Is this cop going to get off too?!! Here we go again!!!
Man…that could have been me.
And as if that weren’t bad enough, I had to relive the nightmare all over again less than 24 hours later, when I found out that Philando Castile had also been gunned down. Then, the day after that, throw in the deaths of 5 Dallas police officers in retaliation…God help us!
Scrolling endlessly on Facebook didn’t help at all. My newsfeed looked like a nuclear war zone…understandably angry blacks on one end, a few incredibly insensitive whites on the other…some well-meaning whites trying to understand and empathize, only to be mercilessly shut down by said angry blacks…many Christians calling for prayer, and other Christians criticizing those Christians and claiming that we’ve done enough praying.
So much anger…so much divisiveness…so much finger-pointing…so much confusion…so many unanswered questions…all of these factors make it difficult to focus. And the ability to focus is crucial in times like this, because if we’re not careful, we’ll lose sight of who’s really behind it all.
I know I take the risk of losing some of you at this point, particularly those who don’t really believe in the God of the Bible, but I’m going to say this anyway. The real culprits behind these senseless deaths are not racist white policemen…nor are they white people in general. The real culprits are not vengeful blacks who retaliate in rage and desperation. Truthfully, the real culprit has no race at all…nor is He even human.
The real culprit is Satan…a fallen angel who, because of his own pride and rebellion against God, has declared all-out war on humanity. And any human being, whether they’re the one holding the gun or taking the bullet, is on his hit list.
And those of us who make up the body of Christ, particularly black believers, cannot afford to lose sight of this. I believe that one of Satan’s main tactics in his destructive endeavor is to create as much dissension and chaos as possible, and he’s succeeded to a large degree in light of the fallout from all of these police shootings. The killings are bad enough, but the absence of justice adds insult to injury, and only serves to embitter the black community to the point where any efforts at reconciliation or understanding are being rejected more and more.
I pray that the church as a whole would not lose sight of what’s really going on here. I pray that black believers (myself included) would not allow Satan to plant a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15) within our hearts. I pray that my white brothers and sisters in Christ, along with all other races and nationalities, would reach out in a spirit of gentleness to help us bear this burden.
And I pray most of all that the church would recognize Satan’s handiwork, and in turn use these tragedies to point everyone to the only one who offers real hope…