“I can’t breathe” is not a cry for help. It is a cry for life.
Breathing out more cruelty instead of an answer to America’s deadly wound the bigot in the executive mansion demonstrates the idolatry that comes with cops and the military as the shield against irrelevance and decadence. In 200 years from the exile of Judah and Israel the powers that ruled the world came and went. We do not have time for race-baiting videos, for shallow amen-seeking sermons, or patriotic rubbish about God and country. The response we steer away from is the one that can save every person from oppression and injustice. America needs a makeover and its first responders cannot be part of the rescue team.
Shameful response to a dying man
If we use the analogy that human aging is a journey to death that begins at birth we might say that nations too are born to die. They do not become shining cities on hills. Compared to Solomon’s Jerusalem today’s Jerusalem is a heap and a parable. The founders of modern nations did not think much about their nations needing rebirth. They thought that good law (especially statutes that divide people) would guarantee success and longevity. Not even Israel, with the most detailed set of laws, has shown any progress towards a maturity that anyone would want to emulate. So we should not be surprised to find that only the oppressed have been calling for their nations to begin a makeover. When police do not recognize that their actions are causing death their superiors need to be called in for questioning.
Choked by violence
Every mayor wants to say that the police in his or her city are good officers but we are discovering that many are not even good citizens. In plain sight, the police arrest a journalist for doing his job. The police chief fires four officers for their role in the murder of an unarmed Black man but only one is arrested and charged. Bad cops are not a few. 0 out of 4 in Minneapolis is not a great show of keeping the peace or serving the community.
Undoing that response – his or ours – is impossible
The response to the gospel after Pentecost fell into two categories: the genuine call on the Lord’s name and the pretense of many (Jews and Gentiles). We do not see the rejoicing in heaven when one person repents nor do we see the glee of Satan as one more human hardens his resolve to deceive. There may be another day for you but what if there isn’t. Let us stop playing the part of the just with our legal and irrelevant traditions. When a man cries for life I can assure you that God does not give him a promise, raincheck, or loan; he gives him his own life.
Understanding the first responder
WHO can remember the time when black and brown people could not become either policeman or fire fighters in Canada?
There was a time when we thought that we all had to adopt the identity of Abraham’s descendants in order to function as followers of the Way. Being a good Canadian or American is neither here nor there. James felt so and even after the reports of Holy Spirit baptism were tabled wanted to give the Way a Mosaic face (disguise). Paul, Barnabas and Peter witnessed the Lord’s certification of Gentiles without a word about Moses and circumcision.
The first responders to the gospel were baptized with the promise of receiving the Holy Spirit. Those who were not were either (a) people who would have perpetusted the lipservice that means nothing to God or (b) people whose day had not come yet (no root, choked by anxiety, under demonic dominion). The first responders were not idols; they were neither sinless heroes nor humble servants. They were ordinary persons who carried an extraordinary torch handed to them by a man of their times.
First responders of the first class do not carry ancestral or tribal banners. They are dreamers who are willing to be honest about the difference between God and creature, do not hesitate to call a killer a killer, and stand up as savers of life.
6. For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 7. But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me. 8. Gilead is a city of wrongdoers, Tracked with bloody footprints. 9. And as raiders wait for a man, So a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem; Surely they have committed crime.