I am struggling. Struggling with churches closing their doors. Struggling with an individual kneeling on a man’s neck. Struggling with burning a business in “protest.” Struggling.
There seems to be so much wrong in the world. I don’t want to be on a “side.” I try not to judge others. I don’t always succeed. I try not to group people or assume things about them because of any group, whether it be race, or gender or occupation. I don’t always succeed. I was outraged after George Floyd’s death. Outraged by the actions of the officer, outraged by the response of others, and I must admit outraged by the implication that this was race-based and the immediate attacks on both sides of this. As a white person, I do not associate myself with the actions of the officer. I know, I would never do that. So initially I disassociated from the whole thing. This was just another racial dispute that I wanted no part in. I am above that, I thought. And then a few days ago, I watched the video. What shook me to the core was not the officer who kneeled on Mr. Floyd (which was absolutely horrible — but again, I can disassociate from that, because I would not do that). What shook me was the people, the other officers and to some extent even the bystanders, who stood by. I could not disassociate from that. I could not disassociate from that because I know that could be me. How many times have I stood by and done nothing when I see evil in the world, when I see injustice, when I see hurt.
It is easy to judge from a distance. It is easy to clamor on social media or in after the fact rallies and protests. But what do we do in the every day moments? The little moments when we hear someone say or do something that is hurtful. Do we laugh along because it is easier than standing up for someone. When we know someone is not doing what is right, do we stay silent because we don’t want to rock the boat? This isn’t a race issue, it is a people issue. We have let morality fall to the side because it is not cool or not politically correct. We stay silent far too often.
For the last several months, I have worn a band on my arm that says “God Strong” referring to Ephesians 6:10-11. But it only really connected to me, when I re-read this shortly after I watched the video:
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones and also for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.
We are trying to draw too much strength from rallies and protests and people. (If only the same numbers would show up to church on Sundays). We need to return to drawing our strength from God. We need to dress each morning in God’s armor, His truth, His righteousness, His peace. Our faith is a shield and His word, His Spirit is our sword. We don’t need to burn down buildings, we don’t need to arm ourselves with firearms, we don’t need to engage in social media warfare. His word is our sword. Our faith is our shield. Armored in God’s truth, we can stand firm against the tactics of the devil. We can stand strong in the face of evil. We can have courage to speak, as we must, to share the word of God, to open our mouths and make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. I have been weak.
As I read this description about the armor of God, I realize just how much a battle this is. A battle against evil. And although the verse speaks in terms of warfare and describes armor, and shields and swords, the weapons are not human weapons. We are not fighting humans — indeed, we need to stop fighting each other — we are fighting the devil, the darkness that surrounds us. And like any battle, we cannot expect to be able to just roll out of bed and be strong — we need to prepare so that we are ready when we are in a situation of injustice that we can stand up, stand firm and speak God’s truth. We need to pray with all supplication (I had to look that up –asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly). It is God’s armor we seek. We need to shod our feet in readiness for the gospel of peace. We need to pray and have faith and read God’s word. This is how we prepare for battle, and we must prepare for battle.
Too often I have stood by silent. I have let others denigrate You and Your creation. I have been politically correct and tried to please this world, even though I know how messed up it can be, even though Your world is where I want to be. Help me to put on Your armor. I want to stand firm against injustice. I want to stand strong against evil. I want to speak Your words in the face of hurt. I don’t want to be a bystander in this world anymore. Please give me the courage to speak your word, even when it may not be popular. Help me to open my mouth and make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. Give me the words to fight injustice, to respond to evil and most importantly to help my friends and neighbors and even enemies, know your love.