Choose to Act out of Love

Greetings Holy, Healthy and Happy People of God,

As I write this to our faithful and devoted community of radical followers of Jesus Christ, I am frustrated, angry, and heart-broken for two families who lost their sons.  First was the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge early Tuesday morning, captured on video by a bystander.  Then, Philando Castile was killed in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on Wednesday evening when his distraught girlfriend broadcast the scene of his final moments in real time on Facebook.  And now the seven police officers killed during a peaceful rally.

From early indications, neither one of these men or the police officers deserved to die at the hands of a few irresponsible police officers or a solo gun maniac.  In spite of my initial feelings of outrage, I will remain hopeful and will turn my energy into faithful and productive action so that these senseless killings of God’s people stop!  We must lead by love, listen to each other, and faithfully organize for police and gun reform.

Now is not the time to turn the channel or even appear to be uninformed about the predicament of young black males in America.  Based on The Counted’s data, black males between the ages of 15 and 34 were nine times more likely to be killed by police officers than any other demographic.  This group also accounted for 15 percent of all 2015 deaths from law enforcement encounters, despite making up just 2 percent of the U.S. population.  Something is NOT right.  We must love our neighbor as ourselves (regardless of class or race).

Jesus often finds himself standing in the gap for the “least of these.”  Although Jesus never said it, I believe he demonstrated that “Gentile lives matter!”  Jesus never said, “Jewish lives don’t matter.”  But to understand what it means to support, stand for, speak for, advocate for, and act on the behalf of people who are invisible to some people in society, we as followers of Jesus must take a position on the side of JUSTICE!  Followers of Jesus do not let people die senselessly and just watch.  We must act with a sense of love, compassion and urgency.  Imagine if one of these were your child.  Or one of these police officers were a relative?  Would you sit back and watch?

What will it take for followers of Jesus to rise up?  How many more deaths will it take?  The Prophet Amos 5:24 claims we must response for justice sake,

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” 

Pray if you must, but act afterwards.  Now is not the time to hide or retreat.  We are the justice seekers and hope holders.  We are the voices of vigilance and the radicals for righteousness.  We are the unity of the body of Jesus Christ.  God put us here in this season to do something for his people, especially people of color.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

We extend an invitation to our McKendree family and to those deeply impacted by the senseless murders with a vigil for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (and the police officers).  Black Lives Matter organizers want to hold space for those of us who are mourning, in pain, and want to be around others.  Join us Friday night (tonight) at 7pm at Public Square in downtown Nashville.  Here’s what we’re asking you to bring: CDs, Candles (Lighters), Signs/Posters and Bottled Water.

Hear the W.O.W. the Words of Wisdom: “Choose to act out of love!”

As always, remember, God’s will for us is good, we must do the rest!

Pastor Stephen

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