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Look around us.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alton Sterling is dead.
In suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, Philando Castile is dead.
In Chicago, Illinois, 64 wounded by shootings over July 4th weekend, 4 are dead, and 329 homicides year to date.
In Dallas, Texas, 5 policeman are dead, 7 wounded, and two citizens wounded.

Whatever your position…
Whatever your opinion…
Whatever your ideology…
Whatever your political position…
Whatever your background…
Whatever your race…
Whatever your gender…
Whatever your vocation…
Whatever your religion…

We must coalesce together around the fact that we are all created by God in His image (Gen 1:27). We share a common humanity. We are mankind. Humanity matters to God and must matter to us. From God’s perspective, it is a capital offense for anyone to be murdered (Gen 9:6).

One person dead is too many. The color, location, or vocation of the individual is meaningless. Whenever it has happened, any person unjustly killed by police is unacceptable. Furthermore, turning violence toward any police authority is deplorable. Neighbor killing neighbor in the street, in a residence, or in a nightclub is intolerable. Murder is never condoned by any means at any time.

Fellow neighbors of the United States of America, let us lay down our hate and pick up our love.

We must unite around six key areas.

Respect. We must respect each other as people. We must respect the people with whom we disagree. We must respect the rule of law. We must respect the governmental authority.

Justice. We must patiently wait for justice to be served. God grants governmental authority (Rom 13) to provide justice for violence and protection for the citizenry. It is not up to us as individual Americans to take justice in our own hands. We pray for justice.

Gratitude. We must open our eyes to see all that we have for which to be grateful. On its worst day, the United States of America, because of God’s grace, provides for us more opportunities than any nation in the world’s history. God has blessed America. Veterans have served and many died for our freedom. We enjoy liberty. It is necessary to look past our immediate struggles and see the big picture of God’s incredible blessings on this nation.

Service. We must serve each other. God grants us energy each day with which He desires us to use to serve our neighbor. Americans hold life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness dearly. Yet, God never intended us to live our lives without reference to those in need all around us. God grants each of us both energy and opportunities each day to live for something bigger than our individual concerns.

Love. We must look around us to see people as our neighbors. We love people as God loves and directs us (Matt 22:39). Our love must be blind to differences. We must not be distracted by political affiliation, race, or passion. Instead, we love our neighbors as ourselves.

Faith. We must love God and worship Him faithfully (Matt 22:37-38). When we first look to God and seek to follow His will in the Bible, it allows us to keep our priorities in order. Faith in God provides the foundation for the rest of life. Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of sacrificial love, selfless service, and submissive obedience to God.

So where do we go from here as a nation?

We cannot allow ourselves to live as if people do not matter to God. We must slow down long enough to care for those around us. There are families who hurt – families in Louisiana, Minnesota, Illinois, and Texas. The reality is greater than that though…there are people hurting in every community in this nation. We cannot live so self-centered in our orientation that we fail to see the people around us.

We must pray for justice. We also must pray for protection for those who provide us justice. These issues are not just black or white, rich or poor, law enforcement officers or protestors, or any other kind of simple binary choice. We do ourselves as a nation an injustice to not have faith in each other as citizens. We cannot allow politicians to divide us. We cannot allow a lack of facts to rush us into any kind of rash judgment.

We must be patient. The justice system works only with due process. The facts take time to develop. The wheels of justice move slowly. It requires time. We must also be patience with those who are angry. Depending upon the proximity of some to these deaths, some will be angrier than others. Some will respond with sinful passion. Although we cannot be patient with lawlessness, we must be patient with those citizens around us who suffer.

We must thank those around us in our community who serve us sacrificially. Although law enforcement personnel are not perfect, and some, arguably, do not deserve individual respect, the simple reality is that we owe a great depth of gratitude to those who serve us. Is it possible to see it in any more a dramatic way than in Dallas? Police running and driving into gunfire in order to protect people who were in the process of a peaceful demonstration against police and law enforcement.

We must turn to God for help. We need forgiveness for our sins. We need hope in a dark hour. We need reassurance of the presence of Jesus Christ among us. We need wisdom to respond to the difficulties around us. We need courage to live not for ourselves but for our fellow neighbors and citizens.

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.
(Proverbs 14:34)