Friday, July 8, 2016
Tony Campbell is director of mission engagement for the Reformed Church in America.
It says in Luke 9:51, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
Luke 9:51 represents a major thematic shift in the book of Luke. Up until this time Jesus is teaching and preaching, but now he turns to action—he is going to Jerusalem to fulfill his destiny and our destiny.
I believe that we are at a critical time in American history.
Often, after an act of violence in American life, our politicians ask us to pray. I believe that, like in Luke 9:51, if people in America are going to be safe, it is no longer enough for our politicians to pray. They must act. I am not a political leader, and I have no idea what should be done, but I believe something must be done.
When I grew up it was safe for children to go to school, and it was safe for people to go to movie theaters, and, while it was never completely safe when African American males were stopped or detained by the police, it was less dangerous than it is today.
Each year in America—sometimes even each week or each day—our people are assaulted with knowledge of a new atrocity. Sometimes it is in our schools like in Columbine, Colorado, and Sandy Hook, Connecticut, and parents no longer feel safe to send their children to school. Sometimes it is in a nightclub or a movie theater, like in Orlando, Florida, and Lafayette, Louisiana, and people no longer feel safe to go out for fun. And sometimes, like Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, it’s an African American male who dies when it doesn’t seem like the use of lethal force was necessary. Sometimes, like in Dallas, it’s police officers who die.
Our elected leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, should do more than just pray. They should come together, they should act, and they should do something to make our people safe rather than just blaming each other. Pushing the blame back and forth is no longer acceptable.
As Americans, we should demand that our elected officials keep our children safe, keep our families safe, and keep all people safe. As Americans, we should demand that our elected officials do what they were elected to do and what they are paid to do and stop putting on a show. It is time to have Republicans put a stop to blaming Democrats and for Democrats to stop blaming Republicans while the culture of violence continues to kill our people.
I believe that we now live in a culture of violence and that federal, state, and local government have a major responsibility to stop this cultural violence. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I have a dream. I dream of the day when children can go to school and not be afraid of violence. I dream of a day when all people can go out and have a good time, visit a club or go to a movie, and not be afraid of violence. And I dream of a day when African American males can be stopped by the police for routine matters and not fear for their lives. I dream of the day when our police can drive through all neighborhoods and not be afraid for their lives. I dream that one day all Americans will have their right to live in safety, protected.
As a Christian, I would ask all white pastors that whenever they detect racism in their community, they would preach the gospel. I would ask that whenever they discern people misusing authority to harm others, they would preach the gospel. I would ask African American, Hispanic, and Asian pastors that whenever they find young people disrespecting authority, they would preach the gospel. I would ask African American, Hispanic, and Asian pastors that whenever their children are living without hope, living in poverty and in despair that is leading them in the wrong direction in life, they would preach the gospel. Too many of our children of color are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they need the power of the gospel. Far too many people in American life abuse both authority and our right to bear arms; they also need to hear the gospel.
It is time for our political leaders to set their face to Jerusalem and somehow end the culture of violence in our nation. Our churches need to preach the gospel and change the hearts and minds of men and women so that we no longer hurt or harm one another.
He set his face to go to Jerusalem. It’s time