The first twelve years of my life I spent growing up in Cutler Ridge - a section of Miami. I have many great memories of times I spent having fun and playing with my friends in the neighborhood. The last few years of living in Miami brought times of uncertainty and fear as our house was robbed on three separate occasions. On the first occasion, the thiefs broke the door jamb of our front door while my family was gone at school/work and backed a truck up to the front door and took many items of value that they could load up. I can still remember coming home to our front door being open and the unsettling and insecure feelings that came with having someone violate your place of safety and steal things that were not theirs.
I am reminded of the verse in John 10 which Jesus states - The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. In this verse Jesus is contrasting the motive of someone who desires to satisfy their selfish ambitions and goals with the one whose only desire is to look out for the best of those around them.
As I have observed in recent days, the response of outrage and protests over the horrific murder of George Floyd captured on video, my heart too is broken over the cruelty and wickedness that can come from the heart of mankind in the way we treat one another. I am in full agreement that these instances should be prosectued to the full extent of the law as a deterrent for others in the future that have thoughts of intentionally inflicting pain, hurt, suffering, and death upon another human being. I am also in full agreement that those who stand by and watch these injustices take place should be held accountable as well.
Unfortunately, in the days of protest that have followed, many of America's cities have turned into crime scenes. Image after image has streamed over the airwaves of the looting of stores, blatant destruction of property, disregard for the rule of law, and the indifference to human life. The unity that most Americans felt in their hearts towards bringing justice and working together to bring a more perfect union has been replaced with the same feelings that I felt as a young boy after the thieves violated my home.
The mob of thieves are at work stealing more than just a few cases of beer, cell phones, and televisions from our local stores. Rather, they are robbing America at its very core of values and freedoms that we have held dear for over 200 years of existence. Three areas in which America is being robbed are:
- Our Rule of Law - In many places the mob of thieves have been allowed to commit horrendous crimes upon our communities as the police have been ordered to stand down and to suffer humilitiation.
- Our Security - Americans are afraid. As my teenagers see and hear clips from time to time of the violence in our cities, they are fearful of even riding their bikes down the street in our neighborhood not knowing what to expect. Even here in South Jersey, in a safe community, we have heard gunfire at night on several occasions over the past couple weeks. When Sean Hannity mentioned a specific advanced pepper gun manufacturer on his show a couple weeks ago, there was a rush to purchase one - my family did. I received an email from the manufactor that they had projected to sell 2,000 pieces in the month of June, but they had received 13,000 orders in just the first week of June.
- Our Unity -The mob has increasingly marched to the drumbeat of racial inequality and it is dividing our society. Having served in church ministry for over 25 years, I have consistently been a witness of this hatred being cultivated in the hearts of our youth. In Georgia, I pastored a church that run a bus/van route to bring children to church. We brought kids of all ethnic backgrounds. It saddened me to hear at times within the African American communities hearing the question - Why are you going to a "white" church? It was also very obvious that there was tension even amongst the children on the bus route between those who were African American and those who were Hispanic.
I LOVE AMERICA!! My heart is grieved to witness the hatred and violence of the mob that is robbing America. So, what is the answer?
Jesus said that He came in order that we might have abundant life. His desire was to not steal, kill, and destroy, but to build. It takes much more time, energy, and skill to build something than to tear something down. Solomon reminds us, Through wisdom a house is builded... If our desire is a more perfect union (nation), we have to put time and energy into building one. Here are four steps which will help bring healing, hope, and strength to our nation.
- We need to Listen. Broken relationships can often be mended if we would invest our heart in listening. What is the other person thinking and feeling? Genuine listening involves no hidden agenda - it is intentionally focusing and understanding what the other person is attempting to communicate.
- We need to Look. When we begin to focus on the problem and not the other person, often times we can unite together to attack the problem. Our fellow Americans are not the enemy - there is an enemy that desires to invade our soil and destroy the freedoms we cherish. Remember the picture of our country in the moments just after 9-11. Our country was united arm-in-arm looking out for the good of each other.
- We need to Love. We came to existence as one nation under God. The social injustices of the past were real, but America has risen up and has changed its course. Most Americans purpose in their heart to treat all mankind equal. We are not a perfect nation, but we are a nation that as a whole is compassionate towards all mankind no matter their race, religion, or background. As an example today, there are more inter-racial marriages than ever before. Groups considered the miniorty such as African Americans and Hispanics have (in many cases) been been the recipients of laws to help them advance. We need to continue to look out for the good of our fellow neighbor. Let us work to build others around us helping them to achieve new heights and goals. Let us purpose in our hearts to be the source of encouragement to one another.
- We need to Let-Go. Real change begins in the heart. Though a person can reform their actions to make a change and to do what is right, there is not any permament change unless it begins in the heart. The nature of the heart is to think and act selfishly with its own best interests. Jesus - the perfect, Son of God who died for our sins - is the only one who can forgive our sin and change our heart. As we let-go of our sin and turn to Jesus, He desires to come into our life to change our desires. He gives us His love for others around us. He came to give us not only eternal life in Heaven with Him but an abundant life here upon earth. If you have never called on Jesus to forgive your and taken Him as Saviour - would you do that right now? He is waiting to hear from you!!
Without a doubt, there is still work to do in this arena for all of us no matter the color of our skin; but, let us work together (united) towards building America rather than allowing the mob of thieves continue to steal, kill, and destroy the foundation of our great nation. There is no other place that I would rather live and fight for than America - the Land that I Love!!
I would love to hear from you!! If there is any way that I might be a blessing to you or if you have specific spiritual needs or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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