Follow the Prince of Peace ©

To read the official statement from the United Methodist Council of Bishops on the recent deadly shootings, please click here. This morning, Jolynn and I awoke to news of last night’s deadly shootings in Dallas as we prepared for the final leg of our trip home from our two-week vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Intentionally, I had taken leave from email and text during our trip and had deliberately not followed national and international news. As we watched the morning news, I was slowly able to piece together the full narrative of the police shootings of African-American males in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and St. Paul, Minnesota, which formed the backdrop of yesterday’s tragedy in Dallas. Once again, the toxic mix of racism, injustice and violence reached out to cause great harm and heartache. With the help of Vance Morton, director of Communications for the Central Texas Conference, I shared deep convictions from my heart via our conference website.dalla prayer vigil Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings had asked that a moment of silence be observed at noon, Friday, July 8. I called on all members of the Central Texas Conference to honor Mayor Rawlings’ request and stop and pray for the victims of last night’s horrific acts of violence in Dallas. I want us to pray for the police, their families, the people of Dallas. I want us to pray for everyone. As critically important as prayer is, we must not stop there. We who claim the label Christian are grace-filled followers of Jesus Christ. As such, we must continue to reject the forces of hatred, racism, fear, violence and anger in favor of the fruits of the Spirit – i.e. love, patience, kindness and peace as described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians [Galatians 5:22-23]. I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for us to remember that we are followers of the Prince of Peace. Anger and violence must be laid aside. Black lives matter to God. Police lives matter to God. All lives matter to the God who gave us his only Son so that we might all have everlasting life. Let us all, everyone, live by the Spirit and follow the Spirit [Gal 5:25] and keep firm in our hearts and minds the commandment of Jesus given to us in John 15 “…love each other as I have loved you.” I am repeatedly struck in my own devotional life by the charge, the divine orders, for Christians to be a different people. In the words of the mothers and fathers of the faith, we are to be in but not of the world. It is ever significant that Jesus, our Lord and Master, gave us the following gift.  “Peace I leave with you, even as he faced his own unjust death. “My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27) Our world today is fear soaked and pain racked. Let us be the kind of people who respond not with anger but with grace and peace. We are followers of The Prince of Peace. While on vacation, I read during my devotional time a brief section of The Bible I rarely read – Titus 3:1-8.  In part it reads:

“Remind them [i.e. Christians] to submit to rulers and authorities. They should be obedient and ready to do every good thing. They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone. We were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, and slaves to our desires and various pleasures too. We were spending our lives in evil behavior and jealousy. We were disgusting, and we hated other people. But “when God our savior’s kindness and love appeared, he saved us because of his mercy, not because of righteous things we had done. He did it through the washing of new birth and the renewing by the Holy Spirit, which God poured out upon us generously through Jesus Christ our savior. So, since we have been made righteous by his grace, we can inherit the hope for eternal life.” This saying is reliable. And I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God might give careful attention to doing good. These things are good and useful for everyone.” (Titus 3:1-8)

May this word of life become our standard for living. Let us be followers of the Prince of Peace.