The recent violence—from the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile to the slain Dallas and Baton Rouge police officers—has left many of us feeling hurt, lost and troubled.
We wanted to hear from someone who represented both sides of the tragedies. So we turned to this black pastor who also actively serves as a sheriff. We chose to keep him anonymous for his privacy.
Here’s what he said:
BMWK: How do you feel about the latest attack on officers?
The truth is, there are some bad police officers out there. They misuse their authority and that causes a negative connotation toward the majority of the police force.
Like with anything high profile, people jump on the bandwagon. Now the load on the wagon is that all policemen are bad and that’s not true. When an officer takes their uniform off, they face the same problems everyone else does( family struggles, bills, stress) regardless of race.
Unfortunately for black officers, they get treated as any other black, male citizen in this country until they identify themselves as an officer of the law.
BMWK: As a member in the black community and pastor to many in the community, do you feel torn between these issues?
No I don’t feel torn…As a pastor, I can’t be biased; we are an international ministry where all ethnic backgrounds are welcome to worship and edify Christ together. As I follow Christ and his teachings, my spirit is continuously yielded to how I can lead his people to him while simultaneously helping them to navigate in society.
I comply with the law as a citizen and law enforcement professional. And as a minister, we nurture our congregation to do the same. But we also teach our members that our faith is not in man but God. My trust is in Him, not society’s solutions or reconciliations.
BMWK: Do you have a suggestion of how we can unify this nation to both put an end to the violence and create more understanding on both sides of the issue?
One of the first things the nation can start doing to put an end to violence and create better understanding is to educate their households. Don’t let society dictate your beliefs. If you want to see changes in law enforcement, then put pressure on the people that make the laws.
Put pressure on the mayors and police chiefs. Whatever affects them will trickle down to everything beneath them. Community members pay for these government salaries, so they have a right to make changes where there needs improvement.
This is especially true for minorities. Minority groups are affected the most because people see us as powerless. But if we exercise our rights, we can show people just how powerful our voices and actions can be.
BMWK: From a pastor’s perspective, what message of encouragement can you give us to help us through these tough times?
It is somewhat difficult to bring or administer understanding when you are a recipient of innocent hardship. The natural response is to retaliate.
This matter can’t be rectified through protest or destruction because their effects are the same. Once they’re over and done with, people forget about them and change is slow to come or never arrives.
People rioting or peacefully standing in the streets won’t do much for a generational, systematic error in ideology. But just as there’s consequences for lawlessness in the spirit, so is true for the natural.
Galatians chapter 5, verse 17 and Romans chapter 8, verse 7 talks about responding through fleshly emotions (anger, hatred and violence).
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (Galatians 5:17—NIV)
The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7—NIV)
God’s way says to take another approach, which depends on moving by His spirit. If we follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, instead of letting our emotions become the driving force, our outcomes will be drastically different.
The holy spirit is the teacher of all things (John 14:26), but we have to be receptive to absorbing his teachings. The first step to open the door to his teachings is believing in Christ. That’s the foundation [when seeking the] leading of the Holy Spirit.
BMWK, do you agree? Should the BlackLivesMatter movement cease protesting and lobby the government officials? Would that work? If not, what? And what other scriptures can help us provide clarity in this dark time?