The people of Dallas are in mourning today and with them, all of America as well.
That a rally purported to serve as a peaceful protest to police-involved shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota (read my statement on the deaths on Facebook) turned violent is a stark reminder that sin and evil rage across every corner of every community of the country.
Here’s what we know:
During a “Black Lives Matter” rally last evening in downtown Dallas, 12 law enforcement officers and two civilians were shot. Four Dallas police officers were killed as well as one transit officer, forty-three-year-old Brent Thompson. While officials have not yet formally released the names of the fallen Dallas officers, media is reporting that two of them include Patrick Zamarripa, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, and Michael Kroll.
In the aftermath of the ambush, the gunman was killed by a police robot. Three more are in custody as possible accomplices. The police chief told the press that the deceased gunman indicated he was specifically targeting white police officers.
Further details regarding the victims, the murderers and the motive behind the horrific attack will continue to roll out in the coming hours and days. There may be a lot we don’t yet know – but this much I do know:
Meeting violence with violence in our society will not move us in a better direction. The apostle Paul, no stranger to both oppressing others and being oppressed himself, repeatedly warned that we are to “repay no one evil for evil” (Romans 12:17, 1 Thes. 5:15).
Have mistakes been made in the past in the realm of law enforcement?
Are they all racially motivated?
Of course not.
The men and women who voluntarily sign up to protect us are faced with an almost impossible assignment. The vast majority of them carry out their jobs impeccably. Yes, there are exceptions. It is right and necessary to confront the evil of those police officers who operate outside of their training and the law. We need to hold accountable inexcusable poor acts by police officers in the line of duty.
But to cast aspersions on the motives of all law enforcement is both wrong and dangerous.
And, as we saw last night, it can also be deadly.
Today we grieve the stories of five families in Dallas whose lives have been completely turned upside down. This time yesterday, all five of the deceased were probably getting ready for their shifts.
And in an instant, “just another day on the job” turned into the last day of their lives on earth.
We would be wise to remember that the sin that I referenced earlier – the sin that led to the violence and evil of last night – is the same sin that lurks in the hearts of every single one of us. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” admonished the Apostle Paul (Romans 3:23).
In the context of last night, what does that mean to me?
To me, it means that I am not merely a passive observer to the problem of this world – I am part of the problem itself.
“Who will take the medicine unless he is in the grip of disease?” once asked C.S. Lewis. Today, our world (as it has always been) is riddled with disease otherwise known as the stain and sting of sin. In response, I must bring mine to the feet of Jesus, confess my failings and ask for His forgiveness, which He readily and generously gives to any who ask.
Please join me in praying for the families of these officers and for the broader city of Dallas. Please also pray for law enforcement everywhere. Shake their hand. Buy them a meal. Please thank them the next time you see them in your community.