In a recent commentary posted by Religion News Service, Mercer University professor and columnist David Gushee wrote, “Government authorities, such as police officers, are public servants. They are frightening only to those who do wrong. They are supposed to hold no terror for those who are not bad and have done no wrong. Much of the time, they do exactly what they are supposed to do, and for this we can be grateful.
“But they are armed. And the weapons they carry can easily kill people. This means that police officers must be trained to be extraordinarily disciplined in their perceptions of situations and people, and extraordinarily restrained in their use of deadly force.
“Otherwise, the power they have to protect the innocent becomes a power to destroy the innocent. Otherwise, their power to keep order becomes a power that creates disorder. Otherwise, the sight of a police car in one’s rearview mirror becomes a fear that one will not survive the encounter — a fear that black people in America know all too well.”
I would like to add that our lives should be informed and marked by prayer. Our God desires us to seek Him and pray to Him. When we pray with confidence to the Sovereign King, we bring glory to Him and joy to His heart. We want to be, always, a prayerful people and a prayerful church.
Gushee noted, “People should not have to be afraid of dying during routine traffic stops. This is horrifying and outrageous. The late Philando Castile did not find it to be the case [last week] near St. Paul, Minnesota. The late Alton Sterling did not find it to be the case… in Baton Rouge. These black men were shot by white police officers, two of 123 black Americans shot by police so far in 2016, out of a total of 506 nationwide.”
The question is, what is the role of the church? Our first call is to prayer; then, our second call is to peaceful protest, to cry loud and spare not. There is only one real problem in God’s church these days, and that is the prayer life of the Church. We could enumerate many other problems that face God’s people.
In a praying church, there is great grace in the lives of God’s people. Acts 4:33 says, “Much grace was upon them all”; the word “grace” is the operative word here. It means “Christ-likeness,” and was seen in four ways:
Will you do your part, God helping you, to make your church a praying church that will impact our community? Maybe I can help you by framing it this way.
What you’ll witness when you watch us pray as the people of God is men and women who are well aware of their imperfections. We are well aware of our hypocrisies. We are well aware of our shortcomings, yet we earnestly and completely believe that God hears us and wants to hear from us, and that when we pray, it pleases the heart of God.
When we consider the God of the Bible, He is unlike any earthly father ever.
The Rev. Kelcy G.L. Steele is the senior pastor of First AME Zion, 1449 West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles. For information, call (323) 734-5370.