Where My Heart Is, Part Three

By M. Lewis

I don’t know what to say today. I am quite honestly heartbroken. And speechless. There is not much I can say that hasn’t already been said, or that will make sense of what happened yesterday.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that a NY grand jury did not return an indictment on a cop who used a choke hold on Eric Garner, resulting in his death. This case is less ambiguous than the Michael Brown case in that there is videotape evidence of what occurred in New York; the method of restraint used by the officer in question is expressed banned in the NYPD Procedural Manual; and Garner can be heard crying out eleven times that he couldn’t breathe. I don’t think you need to be a medical expert to hear the distress in his voice, as it becomes more and more faint and forced. 
He was being questioned about selling cigarettes illegally. Cigarettes. And it is unclear if he actually was. From the conversation he had with the officer prior to his death, they seemed to like stopping and questioning him. This could mean many things; that is a matter of interpretation. But can’t be a matter of interpretation is that the medical examiner ruled the death homicide by choke hold, with contributing factors of asthma and obesity. 
A certain lawmaker blamed his poor health for his death. If he only not had asthma and had been thinner…another lawmaker blamed the high taxes NY places on cigarettes for the fact that he was allegedly selling them on the street (which, again, has not been proven). I am again struck by the absolute disregard for a human life that these statement betray.   
In other news: Today, it was revealed that the officer involved in the death of Tamir Rice in Cleveland was dismissed from a previous job and deemed unfit to be an officer. It is unclear if Cleveland police knew this at the time of his hiring, but if they did not even that should raise serious concerns, concerns the Department of Justice are now raising. On the flip side, a group of non-African American officers in that same city are suing the department for discrimination, citing that African-American officers are not treated as harshly as non-African American officers in investigations of officer involved shootings of African American suspects.
What. A. Mess. 
What to say to all of this? One think is evident to me: if we think that we have somehow transcended race, I think the events of these past few months should dispense of that illusion. Race still matters. It is part of our DNA as Americans. 
I wish I could stop thinking about this and go on about life as usual. But I simply cannot. As I move forward, I feel the need to frame my thoughts through the following prism:
  1. All people are created in the image of God. That image is tarnished by sin (we’ll get to that in #2), but it is still there. This means all human beings are endowed with inherent dignity and worth. Life matters. Period.
  2. All people are sinful. All of us have inherited the sin nature of our first parents. None of us can stand before a holy God based on our own merits and survive the experience. In that sense, we all come to the table on the same footing. The sins of a suburban man or woman who has never committed a crime, smoked, drank, or done any other taboo activity are no better than a gang member that has dealt drugs or even murdered someone. That may seem appalling; but all sin is sin against God – both outward actions and inward motives. And all carry the same eternal death sentence. Therefore, there are none who can boast in their righteousness and turn in judgment to those who have committed what we consider “worse” sins in an effort to place a value on that life that is anything less than all that #1 implies.
  3. All people need Christ. This must be applied to this situation. A friend who commented on my previous post worded it like this: “Fallen man can never make himself whole on his own efforts, but if he submits to the Highest Authority living within then, there is hope. The Truth shall set you free. He is The Truth, the Way and the Life. I just pray more would get to know Him – personally”. I wholeheartedly agree. And I would add here that we are talking about all people. Back to #2: We all have the same problem, and it requires the same solution. We pray for the country as a whole to be swept away in the winds of revival.

    That said, I do believe that a thorough message would address the immediate need alongside the eternal one. Often the immediate prevents one from hearing and receiving the eternal. We need both/and, not either/or in our thoughts about this and so many other things we encounter. A friend of mine posted Jeremiah 29:4-9 on his Facebook page the other day. Food for thought indeed…

This gets me to Advent. This is a season of expectancy; we are celebrating the first coming of the Lord in the light of our expectancy of His second. He came to redeem and “purify for Himself a people of His own possession…” (Titus 2:14a). It is cliche to say, I know, but this is the only real and lasting hope there is. I will unashamedly proclaim that. It is not about “reclaiming America for Christ”; it is about preaching Christ and Him crucified, and calling all to turn to Him to be saved. 
I’m a realist, so I know that not all will heed to call of Christ. But those of us who have done so now have new allegiance. Not to America; not to a particular race; not to a particular social class; and not to a political party. But to Christ. And in Him we are one body. As one body, that which affects one part affect the whole. This issue touches the body of Christ; it must therefore be an issue that concerns us all who call on the name of Jesus. 
Once again, my thoughts are running long. I will stop there for today. For someone who didn’t know what to say, I certain said a lot! I pray some of it made sense…
This post will serve as a transition. Not that I won’t revisit this topic – I’m sure I will. But there are other things that need to be said, things pertaining to that blessed hope of which I spoke above. 
To that I shall turn tomorrow. 
Until then, grace and peace…

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