There’s heartbreaking news today as we learn of 12 Dallas police officers being shot, 5 of them fatally during a protest rally in downtown Dallas last night. This assault on those who risk their lives to preserve our freedom is shocking and repulsive. It’s a reminder that law enforcement officers who serve to protect us do so at great risk.
This is also a testimony to the evil that lurks in the human heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Those who believe in the goodness of man need to think again. Man is inherently sinful and rebellious against God. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. Jesus discussed this in Mark chapter 7. He pointed out that it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him. Mark 7:20-23, “He went on: ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.’” Murder begins in the heart. It starts with hatred and vengeance inside the human soul, and culminates in violence against others.
Hatred precipitated the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. Hatred prompted the murders of children at Sandy Hook. Hatred has incited extreme Muslim terrorists to launch attacks on American citizens in recent months. Hatred resulted in a sniper launching the attack on Dallas police officers. Seething hostility stands behind the plague of killings becoming increasing common in our culture.
The only answer to this reverberating cycle of violence is to embrace the heart of Christ. Christ alone is our peace. Only Christ can break down the dividing wall of hostility that creates barriers and backlash between individuals and groups who hate each other. Only Christ can renovate the human heart through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Hatred can only be replaced with love through the power of Christ. Animosity can only give way to acceptance through the power of Christ. Nothing else has the power to break down walls and produce peace! This is why the message of the gospel is so crucial, and why the mission of the church is vital! We must personify what it means to be a church without walls. We must embody what it means to be instruments of peace. We must affirm the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
I watched Dallas police chief David Brown deliver the sad news this morning during a news conference. Chief Brown is a man of faith, and he has called upon the Dallas community to join in prayers for the families of the fallen and injured. He explained that on most days, Dallas law enforcement officers don’t receive much support, adding, “Let’s not let this be one of those days.” These valiant men and women deserve our support today and every day. So I urge you to join with others today and in the days to come on behalf of these families who have lost loved ones so dear. I urge you to pray for our city to embrace Christ, the only hope for meaningful peace. I urge you to live out what it means to be an agent of peace in a world so riddled with hatred and violence.