How can we be good news in a world that sees so much bad?
I recently saw a sketch from The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon titled “I’ve Got Good News and Good News.” The clip was composed of local anchors reporting headlines that we would all gladly welcome. For example, one story was of a peaceful hot-air balloon ride shared between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner while another was of a correspondent encouraging his viewers that, “Together we can get through this. It is us against the world, buddy.”
How do we respond in times of uncertainty or instability?
Some of us become passive — ignoring injustices long enough in hopes that they simply just go away. Others retreat — protecting their own and leaving others to fend for themselves. Then there are those who seek out conflict — fill our Facebook feeds with only the stories that confirm their particular ideologies or who speak loudly enough to be heard by everyone else in the room.
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But what if there was another way? Can we possibly be a transformative presence in the midst of such troubling times?
Take the recent police shooting in Pasco. There is so much fear and frustration. Those who feel marginalized gather for rallies in an attempt to be heard. On the other end of the spectrum are those dedicated to law enforcement. Many feel disrespected and falsely accused.
How might a follower of Christ be a peacemaker — offering hope and healing?
I think of the Book of Daniel — a collection of prophecies compiled in the midst of Judah’s exile in Babylon (about 600 years before Jesus walked this earth). King Nebuchadnezzar attempted to simultaneously strip the temple of its treasures, and the youth of their God–fearing identities. Daniel was forced to find God in enemy territory — his life being threatened on more than one occasion.
While the magicians and sorcerers panicked, Daniel prayed for revelation. Graciously, God indeed intervened and even a self-serving leader was left to admit, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret” (Daniel 2:47, NLT).
Whatever side we find ourselves on, our instinct must be that of mercy. Listen instead of gossip. Show compassion rather than hate. Kindness and never violence. Humility in place of arrogance. Pray for your enemies as often as you pray for yourself.
I echo the words of Steve Jamison (a Seattle-area pastor) who prayed, “Lord, we are deeply saddened by the hurt and pain that we are witnessing in our streets. ... Open our hearts to ... the deep needs and lingering wounds of people around us. ... We still operate with levels of mistrust and fear that have been fostered by the lack of true relationship between different races and communities. ... We need your grace to reach out with a sense of compassion for all people affected. ... We pray ... you will prompt us ... with practical ways we (can) ... build intentional friendships with people who we otherwise would never have a real relationship. … Help us to lead with respect and love for people, a sensitivity to their stories and how their experience has shaped their perspectives on life and fairness. ... (Likewise,) help us honor and support our law enforcement community. ... As they put their lives on the line to bring us public safety and peace, we pray that ... we can honor them and uplift them in very practical ways. ... Surround each of them with your protection, grace and peace. Amen.”