"What Happens at Grandma's, Stays at Grandma's"
These words appear on a long wooden plaque in our living room. When the grandkids come and spend time like they did recently, there are times we have to call timeout to work through a few things amidst some "intense fellowship." Details usually stay in the confines of our home when we transfer the grandchildren back to mom and dad.
America is at such a place after an extraordinarily painful week where racial tensions reached a high point. More than a quick pause in the action is necessary if we are to avert a repeat of the 60's racial violence, shootouts and ambush attacks that then paralyzed our nation.
In the past few years we've had dangerous eruptions and disruptions over the deaths of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, then two more black men shot last week in Louisiana and Minnesota. Everything culminated in the horrific sniper shooting of five white police officers and the wounding of seven others in the Dallas "payback" attack.
Saturday and Sunday thousands of protesters flooded city streets across America. St. Paul, Minnesota got particularly violent with Molotov cocktails, concrete, rocks, glass bottles and bricks thrown at riot-gear-wearing police. In Baton Rouge and St. Paul alone, 200 arrests were made.
President Obama is cutting short an overseas trip to return home, address the situation and visit Dallas this week. Everyone needs to realize that we are smack dab in the midst of intensified suspicion of police officers and their treatment of African-Americans, alongside an historically unprecedented escalation of disrespect and anti-law-enforcement violence in our land.
Speaking recently with a veteran police officer about the situation, he confided in me that he is retiring because he's "fed up" with what's being done to those trying to protect our families and communities today.
Vocal opponents would disagree, saying racism is rampant among policemen and they're reaping what they've sown.
3 Steps to Alleviate, Not Exacerbate, the Crisis
Most of us are familiar with Parent Teacher Association meetings. Sometimes a "red alert" bulletin goes out because something serious is underfoot. We are at such a time. I offer three positive steps using the acrostic P. T. A.
1. Prayer and Fasting
In times like these, we must remember to "weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15) and pray for the families of those who have lost loved ones regardless of their skin color—black, white, brown, red or yellow. Remember Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. Those who die all have red blood and Acts 17:26 tells us, "He has made from one blood every nation of men to live on the entire face of the earth..."
We should also pray regularly for our political leaders, our law-enforcement officials and all in the criminal justice system entrusted with the responsibility to investigate these difficult situations.
Besides praying "for," we must also pray "against." While many in our culture are almost obsessed with the dark, unseen realm of demons, zombies, vampires and the walking dead, many Christians scoff at identifying and addressing the responsibility of the demonic realm.
To understand the gravity of what we are dealing with, consider this demonically inspired exhortation from racial activist Byron Cowan: "I encourage every black man in America to strap up. It is clear. I encourage every officer to kiss their loved ones goodbye. Every time you leave the house. Tell them you love them; because you may not make it home. Also if you do make it home, you may find their dead bodies sprawled all over the house. This war we're tired. I don't care who I offend I don't have any more words but bullets. It's time to start going into their homes and killing their families."
In Jesus day, another young man was being influenced by demons to die a violent and premature death. Jesus took authority over the demonic presence and also challenged His disciples to jettison unbelief, pray and fast so they could do likewise (Matt. 17:14-21).
Make no mistake about it; what we face today in terms of hatred, division and violence between races is rooted in satanic activity. What's needed is not merely harmonic, interfaith peace vigils where participants march slowly with candles singing "Kumbaya."
We must collectively fast and pray so we are "able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:11-12).
Here's the deal: Inflammatory rhetoric that comes from "Black Lives Matter," Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan or others stoking the flames of racial hatred is "earthly, unspiritual and devilish" (Jam. 3:15). Whether they are conscious of it or not, race-baiters and agitators promoting destruction and violence are under the influence of demons.
I personally have strong disagreement when our President invites representatives of "Black Lives Matter" to the White House and portrays them in a positive light. Their slogans and chants demonizing police and encouraging killing them are criminal!
The former North Carolina police chief and veteran of 35 years in law enforcement, Mike Halstead, stated the following concerning BLM: "It is a terrorist group in my opinion . It's a terrorist group if you can march down the street and call for the death of police officers and a race of people. You can make slogans and hold banners that say Black Lives Matter and then you can yell out, pigs wrapped in bacon and frying in the pan. What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now!"
While conveying love to hostile people, we must exercise our God-given authority over the spirits influencing them. We do this by aggressive prayer and fasting in our churches and multi-church gatherings.
2. Tongue Control
When racially charged situations occur, our duty is to inspire others in righteous paths, not inflame the situation. We must be very careful to wait until the facts emerge. It is critical that we restrain our speech and not stir up suspicion and anger or pass along misinformation.
Remember the rioting, looting and violence over the tragic death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri? The narrative presented him as a simple young man executed by a crazy cop who wouldn't listen to his plea, "Hands up, don't shoot." This mantra went nationwide and stirred up hostility and violent activity until the grand jury evidence came out stating it was all a lie. And Michael wasn't really the innocent young guy portrayed after all.
Over the course of his time in office, President Obama has unfortunately alienated police officers and the public with many of his premature and ill-advised remarks. He began his presidency by publicly criticizing a Cambridge officer saying he "acted stupidly." This caused David Holway, president of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, which represents 15,000 public safety officials, to respond, "The president's alienated public safety officers across the country with his comments."
If the president can falter here, who are we to think we can't, unless we stay vigilant.
God warns us strongly in the Bible, "You must not give a false report. Do not join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness. You must not follow the masses to do evil, and do not testify in a dispute that agrees with the crowd to pervert justice" (Ex. 23:1-2).
"See how great a forest a little fire kindles. The tongue is a fire, a world of evil. The tongue is among the parts of the body, defiling the whole body, and setting the course of nature on fire, and it is set on fire by hell" (James 3:5-6).
3. Ambassadors of Reconciliation
"So from now on we do not regard anyone according to the flesh ... All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation ... entrusted to us the message of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:16-20).
As tensions mount in our culture due to an abandonment of a God-centric life and lack of adherence to our Judeo-Christian foundation, each one of us must search our hearts to make sure that there is no racism/racial pride present. He "has broken down the barrier of the dividing wall" (Eph. 2:14) so we recognize all people as created in the image of God, treat everyone with dignity and respect, and do everything we can to stop injustice while promoting racial reconciliation.
Jesus came from that part of the world touching Asia, Africa and Europe. His skin was not white or black but more bronze. Jesus belongs to all people and we must intentionally work to promote racial diversity and unity wherever He's placed us. He even did it on His way to Calvary when he let Simon of Cyrene, a black man from Africa, help Him in His hour of greatest need.
Charles Harrison, founder of the Church of God in Christ in the 1800s said the church was like an eyeball. Some white. Some color. Without both—we won't see right!
Remember when Miriam, sister of Moses, criticized her brother for having an Ethiopian, dark-skinned wife (the Bible nowhere condemns interracial marriage)? For her prejudice God disciplined her with seven days of white-skinned leprosy (Num. 12). It was as if He said, "You think lighter skin is better than her darker coat of paint? All right, be really white for a week to learn a little lesson!"
I came to Christ because a black man was kind enough to give me a lift in the rain after my car broke down in Cleveland, Ohio. He invited me to a little storefront church in the inner city where I went as the only white fellow among 30 or more black brothers and sisters in Christ.
I am forever grateful for my being launched into the Christian life through this experience. I'm also thankful that every day I can work for racial reconciliation as His ambassador in the midst of a very turbulent time. I invite you to join me.
After last week's tragic Dallas murders, the city's police chief, who is black, wondered out loud about support for those he represents in law-enforcement. Chief Brown said, "We don't feel much support most days."
By our prayers and fasting, controlled speech and acting as Christ's ambassadors of reconciliation, let's show him and the world we're with him.
Larry Tomczak is a cultural commentator of 46 yrs, Intercessors for America board member, best-selling author and a public policy adviser with Liberty Counsel. His new, innovative video/book, BULLSEYE, develops informed influencers in 30 days (see www.bullseyechallenge.com). and he has a variety of resources on his website (see www.larrytomczak.com). You can also hear his weekly podcast here.
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