Author: Pastor Lewis Hemphill Jr.
On May 15, 1965, Motown vocal group, The Four Tops arrived in Berkeley on tour only to witness police brutality and violence in the People’s Park during a peaceful rally and protest held by anti-war activists. That day became known as Bloody Thursday as 6000 blacks were chased and beaten by mobs of police because they chose to denounce the war. Renaldo “Obie” Benson, then a member of The Four Tops, prophetically inspired by Bloody Thursday penned a song along with Marvin Gaye titled, What’s Going On?
Marvin sang the lyrics to the question What’s Going On? stating: Mother, mother there’s too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother there’s far too many of you dying. You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some loving here today He then goes on to sing: Father, father we don’t need to escalate, you see, war is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate, you know we got to find a way to bring some loving here today”.
When a cop can kill a 12 year old named Tamir Rice for playing with a toy gun in the park and not be charged we have to ask what’s going on? When Eric Gardner, who was harassed while selling cigarettes on a corner, dies from being put in an illegal choke hold by a cop while crying “I can’t breathe” and the cop is not charged we have to ask what’s going on? When Alton Sterling, minding his own business selling cd’s, has his life ended with multiple close range shots to the chest from what is clearly seen as an unnecessary use of force, we have to ask what’s going on? When Philando Castile can be pulled over for a busted tail light only to be murdered for doing what the officer said, do we have to ask what’s going on? When five police officers can be killed because of their skin color and career choice, then we must ask, what’s going on? It can be easily seen that racism is going on, prejudice is going on, hatred is going on, fear is going on, demonic revenge is going on, and injustice is going on. What’s going on? Sin is going on. After we easily answer the question of “what’s going on” we have to also answer the question “What must we do now?”
I believe Paul gives us the path to take in 1 Corinthians 13:13 when he states “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”. In verse 12 he lets us know that on this side of heaven there will be things that we just won’t completely understand. He says we will understand everything on the other side of heaven, but on this side it will be a little cloudy. He then goes on in verse 13 to let us know that even though we don’t understand there are 3 things we do have; Faith, Hope & Love.
I believe the answer to the question is “we must have faith, hope and love”.
WE MUST HAVE FAITH
WE MUST HAVE FAITH IN THE POWER OF PRAYER In times like these we have to continue to PUSH. The acrostic PUSH stands for Pray Until Something Happens. When we have faith in the power of prayer it says “God, We Need You Right Now”. When we live in a society where skin color determines the value of your life then we need God right now. When we live in a society where skin color causes you to be prejudged, we need God right now. When we live in a society where skin color causes you to be hated, we need God right now. Whatever we do it must start with prayer.
WE MUST HAVE FAITH IN THE POWER OF FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE After we pray we have to get up and do something. Faith without works is dead. Facebook posts and twitter tweets are great for sharing but do nothing in regards to fighting for justice. Historically marching for justice has caused changes, boycotting has caused changes and voting has caused changes. If we ever get to a point where we believe fighting for justice is useless we are on our way to destruction.
WE MUST HAVE FAITH IN THE POWER OF UNITY The black community has to be united. Martin Luther King stated, “We must live together as brothers or die together as fools”. We have to move past being a “crabs in a bucket race”. Another race will not believe that “black lives matter” until they see that all the blacks believe that “black lives matter”.
WE MUST HAVE HOPE
WE MUST HAVE HOPE IN GOD’S HAND Our hope can’t be grounded in a man to turn this nation around or give the justice that is needed. Our hope has to be in God’s hand. A wise man once said “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Proverbs 21:1). My hope is not in the next president, governor or mayor. My hope is in the fact that the heart of our world leaders are in the hand of God and He has the power to turn it for His will to be done. If God can control the heart, then God is still in control. Even if it looks like things are out of order, God is still in control. Even if it looks like the Devil has taken the throne, God is still on the throne.
WE MUST HAVE HOPE IN GOD’S LOVE Some may be asking the question “if God loves us why would he allow these things to happen to innocent black men and innocent police officers”. I don’t have the time in this blog to discuss how sin entered the world and how one day sin will be eradicated by the blood of Jesus. But, what I do have time to tell, is that God has already proved his love to us when He sent his only son to come down from heaven to die for you and I. Jesus stated in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Now is not the time to question God’s love, it’s the time to embrace His love
WE MUST HAVE HOPE IN GOD’S ETERNAL REWARD For the believer, this is not the end for us. After this temporary home we have an eternal home waiting on us. Paul stated, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1) Prejudice may never completely leave this earthly home, but it won’t be in our eternal home. Racism may not ever completely leave this earthly home, but it won’t be in our eternal home. Hate may not ever completely leave this earthly home, but it won’t be in our eternal home. We must have hope in the life to come.
WE MUST HAVE LOVE
WE MUST LOVE OUR GOD Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John14:15). Keeping God’s commandments or being Christ like is the expression of our love for Him. In times like these when we want God to show up and move on our behalf, He needs a church that represents Him not just with their words, but with their lifestyle. To have a God loving nation it will have to start with having a God loving church.
WE MUST LOVE OUR ENEMIES In Matthew 5 Jesus poses the question, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matthew 5:46a). The type of followers that Jesus was challenging us to be in the previous verse was the type that would love our enemies and pray for those who deal with us unjustly. Revenge is not the characteristic of a follower of Christ. Hatred is not the characteristic of a follower of Christ. Love is the characteristic of a follower of Christ.
WE MUST LOVE OURSELVES When you love something it’s easy to value it and take pride in it. Now is the time to value and take pride in who you are and who God has created you to be. Your skin might be dark, but you’re valuable. Your hips might be wide, but you’re valuable. Your hair might not be straight, but you’re valuable. You’re strong, smart and athletic. You’re a leader, a pioneer and an agent of change. You have value. Take pride in who you are, and love yourselves.
What must we do? We must have faith, hope and love….