As I begin to reflect upon the past weeks and the events of May 25, my heart is grieved and spirit heavy with the burden of carrying this shield. For 17 years, I’ve worked in some of the most poverty-stricken and violent neighborhoods across the country, desensitized to the reality of racism even coming from a commonwealth country under the rule of these United States. The current state of affairs has led many to verbalize and express righteous indignation, held for hundreds of years and the season of justice is upon us as a nation under God. This has been a long time coming, largely due to our refusal to act when injustice is present. Just like the parable of the good Samaritan have we instinctively limited who we are willing to reach out towards yet we rather do it to people who look just like us or people to whom we have a personal preference over.
The mind of a police officer is complex that I hope to enlighten and inform you my dear reader. We are sworn into this profession wearing multiple hats. In some instances, we are called to be physicians, therapists and psychologists without the accolades or plaques. Most departments are not afforded enough training in the area of systemic racism, implicit biases and have resulted in our discretions on the matter. Cops don’t wake up and say, “I’m going to be a racist today,” but the institution has failed to promote the ideological of shared authority among the marginalized we police. We’re not afforded enough reaction time (.7 to 1.5 seconds in most cases) and the tension of action vs. reaction is present in every domestic dispute, car stop and gun run.
The numbers are evident:
Police killed over 1000 people in 2019 – 24% of those killed were black
Blacks and brown are 3x more likely to be killed by police than white people
99% of killings by police from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime
228 police officers died by suicide in 2019 compared to 172 the year prior
Standing for righteousness and possessing the authority instituted by Romans 13 is not only a challenge but if done incorrectly, instills fear and a disconnect with those whom God has entrusted to our very care. We need to rethink our interpretation of Romans 13 as this “doctrine of the state” that has typically been expressed by white evangelicals and modern Western Christianity that has provided theological justification for “white blessing” and the subjections of our people from colonization and enslavement. The focal point is the “voices from the margin” and the governing authorities ordained by God that have loved the law more than the neighbor. We’ve abused our authority, crossed the line of our jurisdiction and the outcry of our communities is being heard as a result.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” – Romans 13:1-2
In Matthew 8 we see Jesus’ Galilean ministry to the centurion’s servant for healing. I love how he responds with “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, ” “For I am a man under authority” (Matt 8:8-9). The word for authority here is exousia which means jurisdiction. This gentile centurion (senior officer) recognizes the disparity…a feeling that we today have emulated in our communities between the police. This is the first occurrence of healing at a distance were both Jesus and the centurion are under authority and where I believe that faith triumphs over the injustice and racial divide that has plagued our country. Racial reconciliation is possible even at a distance when faith becomes the imputed factor.
Since the tragic death of George Floyd, there has arisen anti-police rhetoric that has caused potential harm to many who put on this uniform. Can justice be served in the light of chaos and God’s grace still penetrates the hearts and minds of people? Unequivocally, Yes! It begins with a posture of humility that embraces the theology that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them (2 Cor. 5:19). This is the message of reconciliation that is needed today! Racial tension has been a historcal issue since Genesis (Gen. 46:34) and exists today in what some have dubbed living in this “Plain Vanilla Christianity.”
I stand with all my brothers and sisters of the faith that have experienced the adulterous backlash of segregation and disunity even from the pulpit. The silence has to stop and when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible (Eph. 5:13). My prayer is that the lynching of our harmony will stop, allowing the cross to heal our hurt and liberate the oppressive powers that stand in the way. The gospel of Jesus becomes the transcendent reality of here, now and forever. We have in some way all become like Jacob, wrestling for the blessing when God has already secured the victory. It takes a church that is not willing to compromise the justice of God when called to do so and a community that exhibits a faith the world needs to see. Will you stand with me as we seek for the change that is needed? Will you promote the gospel of peace and work towards a better tomorrow for our future generations? Solidarity is unity in strength and imitating this will help in our fight towards equality.
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Mic 6:6–8.