Perfect love

Not many things keep me up at night. Maybe it’s a revelation of my ego-centric heart that I didn’t lie awake after any shootings this week until the shots took place in my own backyard. Maybe it’s just a fact that things don’t seem quite as real until they happen to you or those you love or to your home.

Regardless, I got in bed last night, and my mind wouldn’t stop. I’m a Myers-Briggs INTJ, the type that wants to “fix the world,” and none of the solutions I’ve seen to repair and prevent all the damage that’s taken place in our nation over the past week seem effective enough. Or tangible enough.

As a white, Christian girl in my mid-twenties, the majority of my Facebook feed is in agreement: shooting black men in cold blood is terrible, and shooting white police officers in spite is terrible. We agree. And we are expressing our agreement in 500 different ways on social media, yet our day-to-day lives change very little.

As I lay there in bed running each possible “solution” through my mind, I knew that I don’t have any solutions either. I’m not a black man. I’m not a white police officer. What do I know?

What do I know? I know Jesus, who has felt all our temptations (Hebrews 4:15) and all our pain (1 Peter 2:24). And I know His Word, which is a lamp to our feet and a light on our paths (Psalm 119:105). So I lay there and prayed Show me from the Bible how we respond to this.

Because voting a certain way is good, but it is not enough.

Loving others is good, but it is not enough.

Spreading awareness is good, but it is not enough.

The reality is that the “right” people in positions of power will not save us (Psalm 146:3).

Being “kind” to others will not save us, for without Christ, none of us is truly kind (Genesis 6:5).

And as I prayed, 1 John 4:18, 20 came to my mind. It says:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

Fear and hate are next door neighbors in the Bible. Fear and hate motivate us to do horrific things. Things like shoot someone because of their race or career. Things like shoot someone because they have the potential to hurt you.

But the Bible gives us a solution: perfect love. Not “love thy neighbor” love. That love is good, but it is not perfect. No, perfect love is this: a perfect Man dying for imperfect people (John 15:13).

We drive out fear and squash hate by spreading the only Perfect Love that exists. We don’t do this by being “nice” people (I’ve spent plenty of years “sharing Jesus” by my actions only, and that yields little fruit). We don’t encourage others to “love” more. We take Perfect Love to them by sharing the Gospel transparently, gently, and fully.

We ask cashiers and waiters and strangers on the street if we can pray for them, and we’re prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). We invite those who don’t know Christ to dinner, and we ask them questions and if we can share the most important thing in our lives with them: that even as sinners, Christ died for us.

We enter each storefront, each day at the office, each walk in the park with the prayer God, bring someone across my path who needs to hear about Your Son. And we watch and we wait for Him to do it. He will because He desires the lost to be saved more than we do (1 Timothy 2:4).

We share the Gospel clearly because that friend or waiter may be the next innocent black man on the sidewalk selling CDs. Or the next innocent police officer keeping the streets safe during a protest. Or a hate-filled police officer too quick to pull his trigger. Or a fear-filled sniper planning retaliation.

And the only injustice greater than an innocent man dying is a guilty man dying without anyone telling him that Someone has already died in his place.

And we are all that guilty man. For how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14).

Of course we mourn unjust death. Jesus wept when Lazarus died (John 11:35), and He commands us to weep with those who are weeping (Romans 12:15). But Christians, don’t lose perspective.

We should mourn earthly death, but we should be outraged at a soul eternally separated from his Maker. And we should realize that, somehow, the two are intricately interwoven—that the atrocious sin of murder is tied to both the killed and the killer’s need for a Savior. We have the solution in our hearts, in these “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7)—the solution that can determine whether an innocent man’s funeral is full of hope or despair, and the solution that can change a killer’s heart of stone before he even lifts his gun. And we should be motivated to do something about it every single day. Because we can.

So here’s what the Bible says we do:

  1. Pray. God’s the one doing the work, not us. Pray for His mercy on our land (Luke 18:13). Pray for His peace in our hearts (Philippians 4:7). Pray for clear opportunities to share His Gospel (1 Chronicles 16:11).
  2. Share the Gospel explicitly. Not just through actions. Not just through photo captions. And not just with your Christian friends (Matthew 28:18-20). What would have happened if on the morning of July 5th, someone had asked the Baton Rouge cop if he could pray for him, and he encountered Jesus? What if on the afternoon of July 7th, someone had shared the Gospel with a Dallas sniper?
  3. Talk with people. Like Jonathan asked David what he could do to protect his life, ask the hate-hearted and the afraid how they’re doing—black men, white cops, their families, their friends—how you can pray for and help them. (1 Samuel 20:4)

This list is not exhaustive, but it is where we start and end every day. These solutions are not “simple.” They are the hardest. But the Enemy wants you to believe they are too easy or not enough so that you’ll run from words like “evangelism” and roll your eyes at “prayer changes things.” For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

But Satan has not won. He will never win. Because God has overcome evil through Jesus, and He has put Jesus in us. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Let’s run the race. Let’s fight the good fight. Let’s push back the darkness.

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