A reaction to perpetual violence in America
By Pastor Carl Henderson
When does it end?
The truth is I don’t even know how to begin to write this article. A surge of emotions are washing over me like flood waters; I feel like I’m drowning. Why? Because once again there has been an act of injustice and American soil runs red. All of what we would consider to be “normative” is fighting against me as I sit here in the church office writing this letter.
“Put on a happy face, act like nothing is wrong, smile and wave to the people walking in and out, don’t cry, don’t get angry, push it all down and pretend you’re ok, be blind.” These are the voices running through my head –and I don’t say this lightly—they are demonic. I just saw on Facebook what happened to Alton Sterling. It would be so easy to give in to those voices and do what all of us do far too often: go on about our day as if nothing ever happened.
THAT IS THE PROBLEM!
It did happen! Alton Sterling was a human being, a man created in the image and likeness of God! He held within himself an intrinsic value that was priceless because it was given to him by no-one else but the One who fashioned him. I’m not talking about his parents, the people who had been the greatest influence on his life, and I’m not even talking about his own personality. I’m speaking to the part of him that is eternal; the part of him that was a dream in the mind of a loving God before that same God took the earth and molded it with his bare hands.
Two days ago we the people celebrated July 4th. We celebrated our independence from tyranny and oppression. We had barbecues and watched fireworks to celebrate the freedom that we stand in because men fought for it. Men who would not sit idly by in the face of injustice. Instead they stood up for justice and gave their lives for something so much bigger than themselves. Where are those men now when we need them most?
Where are the men standing up to injustice rather than slipping the plastic mask over their faces and pretending that nothing is wrong? Something is broken! WE are broken! Because we have been desensitized to the point that we can sit back and watch a man be gunned down and have no more emotional response than we would to watching the same thing happen on “Law and Order.”
Guess what? This isn’t a TV show, where the character can die and then that actor can simply get up and continue on with his life. A LIFE was taken, and Alton Sterling is not coming back; and there was only one of him.
Now I’m not going to pretend to know the whole story and I am sure that there are going to be more voices coming out in the near future that will say things like, “It happened because Mr. Sterling did….such and such,” or “The officer in question felt…in such a such a way,” or “Mr. Sterling fit….such and such a description and was resisting arrest.” Regardless of the circumstances, however, we should not be able to watch a man, criminal intent or not, be shot repeatedly on YouTube or Facebook and then continue throughout our day like nothing has happened.
Or maybe violence and bloodshed is ok in your book.
Did you feel that; the pang in your gut as you read the above sentence? Why is it that what I just wrote will elicit more of a defensive response, or more outrage than what most of American’s will feel about Alton Sterling dying in front of them?
We need a revolution. And it needs to come in the form of a revival. A revival of repentance. A revival of compassion and empathy for our neighbors. A revival of prayer. A revival of Awakening; to open our eyes rather than blinding them to the injustices we see on social media. It should NOT be ok that we feel nothing when human life is taken. We need a Revival, and his name is Jesus Christ. He—and He only—has the power to fix what is broken.
And what is broken, is us.
So Lord, come and change our hearts! We need it! I need it! We have fallen so far. We are lost in the dark. Only You Jesus have the power to turn the lights back on and open our eyes. We need your light to illuminate for us a way back. Forgive us for the plastic faces. Forgive us for not responding to these acts of brutality the way you do; with the emotional heartbreak of a Father for a child. And remind us. Remind us Lord of just how big you are. Remind that you are just. Remind us that although things can get really bad, that light shines brightest in the dark.
We pray for the Sterling family. We pray even for the ones who pulled the trigger. We pray for true revival in this nation. We pray for our own hearts; to be more like yours.
And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” - Genesis 4:10