Saturday, February 16, 2013

What Should My Reaction Be?

Working in the law enforcement community as I do, the manhunt and eventual death of Christopher Dorner this past week has naturally been a topic of conversation and consideration.

It is my understanding from news accounts that the final death toll from this tragic week included two police officers, the daughter of an LAPD Police captain and her fiance, and Christopher Dorner himself.  Five people died, and at least 4 others were injured including two more police officers, and two civilians who were driving trucks mistakenly thought to be Christopher Dorner's truck that were shot up by Torrance and LA police during the manhunt.

The toll in human life, injury, fear, chaos, and confusion is staggering.  The scope of those touched is enormous: there are the families of the victims and those who lived in fear; frightened and nervous police officers on patrol; EMTs and firemen that responded to the incidents; hospital staff who treated the wounded; counselors who talked to the affected to help try to make sense of it all.  There was a family who's house burned, a couple who were tied up, and several who had their cars stolen. A nation watched on television.

Let's not forget Dorner's family, too.

The scope of those touched is immense.  

This all brought on by one man's anger and unbalanced reaction to being fired by the LAPD, or so we're told. Accusations of lying and malfeasance, of favors and favoritism and racism are rampant.  Chaos reigns still in the aftermath, trying to piece together why a scenario like this would occur.

I got to wondering though, as a follower of Jesus, working in law enforcement, honestly hoping that Christopher Dorner would be caught and brought in, what should my reaction be? What should the inclination of my heart be when I think about this week? 

I know that the apostle Paul touches on a little bit of the government's God given responsibility to keep the peace in Romans 13, where he says, among other things:
"The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience."
I think we can all agree that, no matter what Christopher Dorner's beef was with the LAPD, killing to make his point was wrong. The authorities were well within their scope of responsibility to apprehend him and bring an end to the killing.

But as I was watching and experiencing the saga unfold, I couldn't help but think, as a follower of Jesus and one who prays for God's will to be done "on earth as it is in heaven", what a heart-breaking tragedy the whole affair really was.

For everyone.  Even Christopher Dorner.

Its heart-breaking to me, too, because I'm told to love even my enemies, and pray for them.

Loving Christopher Dorner, to me, meant praying that he'd be caught, or turn himself in, without further bloodshed on his hands.  It meant praying that he might have a change of heart, of mind, or soul, and turn himself in, and stop the fear and chaos he'd caused.  It meant praying that God would change his heart, that he might see God and repent and seek forgiveness, and seek mercy.  

I believe this whole thing was heart-breaking to God for exactly the same reasons.

I believe God is a God who so loved the world that He gave His only son - not to condemn us but to save us.

I believe God is a God who asks us to "love one another" - even our enemies - just as he loves us.  He loves our enemies just as much as he loves us. 

I believe God is a God who says "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" just as He did for us through the outrageous love shown by Jesus dying on the cross.

I believe God is a God said to forgive not just seven times but seventy-times-seven times , just as he forgives each of us as far as the east is from the west.

I believe God is a God who gave his own life to redeem every person who ever lived, including the slain police officers, civilians, and even Christopher Dornan, and all who make choices like him. God extends his mercy and grace and beseeches each of us to turn to Him.

I  believe God is a God who desperately loves all of his creation, and every person in it, no matter who they are, what their station in life, their social tendencies, or their criminal history.

Psalms 145 says:
"The Lord is merciful and compassionate,slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. The Lord is good to everyone.He showers compassion on all his creation. All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you."
2 Peter 3 says:
"The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." 
1 Timothy 2 says:
 "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth."
I believe God is a God who's very nature is compassion and love.  He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but asks us (followers of Jesus) to pray for all people.  Why? Because God loves all people.

God does not want anyone to perish or be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent,  to understand, and to be saved.

In fact, there is joy in heaven over one person being saved! Luke 15 says:
"In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!"
So, the God I believe in loves the whole world, everyone in it, gave his life for us all, loves us with all his heart, does good to us, forgives us, is compassionate, patient, and wants everyone to be saved and know the truth of God's love.

If there is joy in Heaven when even one person repents, I would imagine, then, that there is grief when even one person is lost.

As followers of Jesus, I think the only rational way to view sagas like this is with sadness and grief.  Justice in the world has been done, but I dare say the will of God, as it's done in Heaven, has not.  People have died, hearts have been broken, lives have been shattered.

But God can turn all things to useful good if we trust him to wisely do so.

As followers of Jesus, lets pray for healing, for hope, for peace, and most especially, for God's Kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven. Only then will there be true peace on earth. Then we will see what is written in Revelation 21:
"I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever."
Thy Kingdom come, Lord.  Thy will be done.

That's my prayer.

I hope it's your's, too. 

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