Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10 (NIV)
As I sat studying, there was a knock on my door. I lived by myself and wasn’t expecting any visitors especially at this time of night. Hesitantly, I walked to the front door and peeked out the peephole and noticed police officers. I wondered why they would be at my door because my music wasn’t on so they shouldn’t have received any noise complaints. I opened the door. As they began to speak, my confusion increased. They explained that they had received a complaint against me for harassment. Bewildered, I attempted to explain that I had no idea of who they were speaking nor of what I had done to the individual mentioned since I hadn’t heard her name before. They didn’t care what I said. It was her word against mine and I guess when I opened the door I fit the description. Little did I know, I had been wrongfully accused by someone I had never even met. It didn’t matter that I explained this over and over to the officers as they handcuffed me and put me in their squad car. I sat with tears streaming down my face in what I now understood as an unfair justice system. “How could this be justice?” I cried. They didn’t care what I said. It didn’t matter what I said. I had been accused and that was the end of it. They took me into the police station, fingerprinted me and put me inside my cell to sit and wait until the judge would appear the following morning, which was Monday. I had classes to get to, I had tests to study for, I had been charged with a crime that I hadn’t committed and accused by someone that I didn’t even know. I sat in my jail cell all night, at times crying, at times praying, I never received my phone call that night. I wanted to call my mom but couldn’t so I cried out to God. I had never experienced this form of racism in my life and now here it was, I was living it. I never slept, I was awake until the next morning when the judge released me on “my own recognizance.” That was 30 years ago.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. John 15:19-21 (NIV)
I wish I could say that things have changed in the past 30 years but I struggle with saying that. We still see police brutality, wrongfully accused persons, and an unfair justice system not designed for everyone. And somehow I find a parallel to Jesus and what He suffered when He walked the earth. He suffered persecution of every kind, He suffered mistreatment, He suffered abuse, He was wrongfully accused and still prayed, “ Jesus said, ’Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.” Luke 23:34 (NIV)
We are told to forgive those who persecute us. But does forgiveness mean sitting quietly as we suffer persecution? “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV) These recent events have caused anger amongst the black community and at times sin was the result of it. The looting and riots are a response to years of oppression and frustration in every walk of our lives. We suffer discrimination when we walk, when we talk, when we shop, when we go to work, when we go to school, when we drive, when we _____. It’s time we take notice that we are a tired people.
This past weekend my family responded to the recent events by joining in a 9-mile walk for black lives. As we stood with our signs on the side of the road, we noticed all colors together peacefully protesting. There was every shade all united together for one purpose, equality for all. I was shocked to notice that there were more whites than blacks protesting the unfair justice system and the recent brutality that had been ever-present in the news. Yet, we all stood together with one voice, one message, no color divided us but our hearts were for the same purpose. Equality.
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)
I was changed that day when I literally saw heaven come to earth in the form of unity amongst all people. My son was changed that day as he listened to speaker after speaker. My husband was changed that day as he gave way to the next generation. We were all changed that day.
Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)
Heavenly Father, thank You for continuing to teach me Your ways that I may become more and more like You. You are a righteous God and You take no pleasure in evil doing. Thank You for showing me that we can unite together as a people and be of one accord. You are the one who judges and sits on the throne and instructs us to not repay evil for evil but instead live at peace with everyone for it is Yours to avenge. Thank You for Your Son whom You sent to experience everything we would experience in this life yet without sin. Help us to become more like Him in everything we do and say. In Jesus’ name, amen.