In what has become an all too common occurrence in the United States, the past seven days have brought yet another round of violence to our nation. Police involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota have left two African-American men dead. In response, several attacks have been carried out against law enforcement officers; the most prominent occurring in Dallas, Texas where a sniper killed five police officers and wounded seven others as they monitored a peaceful rally calling for an end to police violence against the black community. (Source: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/08/us/philando-castile-alton-sterling-protests/index.html) These are the latest in what has been a recurring series of highly publicized tragedies playing out in our communities over the past several years.
Opinions and emotions run deep over these actions and in today’s social media driven world, that leads to the formation and promotion of hashtags: #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, and so on. Of course, what follows is a debate over the validity of one hashtag and the stance it takes in comparison to another. As passionate people, we vehemently defend our position on these matters and in the midst of this apologetic debate we create a heightened level of tension with little chance of finding an “agree to disagree” compromise let alone resolution. Despite the claims, sinful men have no simple solution to this ever growing conflict.
That being said, we must turn to God to find peace, forgiveness, a softening of our hearts and a greater willingness to see one another as brothers and sisters of Christ – even those who would immediately discredit our position based upon their dismissal of our Christian faith. Christ set the bar for us in this process by dying not only for a select few or for those most agreeable with God’s word, but for everyone. 1 John 2:2 describes Christ as “… the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (ESV).” So why would Jesus do this? What is gained by His compassionate sacrifice? Consider Christ’s own words in John 10:10-11 as He explains, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (ESV)” It seems evident that through our distrust, our fear, and our desire to win a battle against our own brothers and sisters we are complicit in the very scheme of the enemy to steal, kill and destroy one another.
Man can create a great many wonderful things, but life is beyond our capabilities. Science can save and prolong life, but our sin ultimately leads us to the inevitable conclusion of death. For those who disregard faith, death is simply the end of our existence – a sobering reminder of why we must cleave to the life we have now. This isn’t to say that those who have faith don’t desire to live their lives to the fullest, we just have a different understanding of what happens when our earthly life ends.
John 11:25-26 makes this clear as Christ tells us, “…I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” From the beginning of time when God created the universe, He gave to us this glorious thing called life. Sin drove a wedge between us and our Father, but because of His great love for us God set into motion the plan to redeem us. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection freed us from the bonds of our sin and the death it causes, giving to those who have faith the assurance of eternal life in heaven.
Simply put – life matters because Jesus is Life.
May our continual prayer be that our world would turn away from the sin which divides us and cling to the Life that provides us with forgiveness, hope, love, and peace that can only come from our Lord and Savior.