I’ve never understood or needed Romans 12:21 more than I have in the last 72 hours. The Scripture simply says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” I’ve walked with people through tragedy, injustice and death. I’ve seen evil. But I’ve never felt like it was overcoming me.
And then Alton Sterling was killed. And then Philando Castile was killed, this time with the aftermath being live streamed for all of us to watch. And then five Dallas police officers were killed, and at least six others were shot. There’s a sense of dread in me every time I check the news. I find myself wondering just how bad things will get.
At the same time, I feel an increased determination to embrace the calling of the second half of the verse. Overcome evil with good. My heart needs that. My home needs that. My family needs that. My neighborhood needs that. My church needs that. My city needs that. My country needs that. Overcome evil with good. It’s the heart of the gospel. The horror of the cross is answered by the majesty of an empty tomb.
We planted Restoration City with the belief that the church was never meant to be an escape from the world but rather hope for the world. Much of the trajectory of my life was established in my early 20’s when I heard Bill Hybels, the legendary pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, say, “The local church is the hope of the world.” That wrecked me and I knew I wanted to give the rest of my life to that advancing that kind of hope. I still do. And I believe more than ever that our world is desperate for the hope of the gospel.
That’s why we’re taking this Sunday at Restoration City to pray, to worship and to reflect on everything our society is walking through right now. I had planned to start a new series this week but it just doesn’t seem right. The world is talking about Dallas, Minneapolis and Baton Rouge. We should be as well. I’ll be speaking from Romans 12:9-21 and I’m asking the Lord to use our time mightily for the sake of His Name and our city.
I want to ask you to do two things before Sunday:
- Pray for me. This talk has been brewing in me for a while but I’m asking the Lord to bring it all together in the next 48 hours. I really would appreciate your prayers.
- Invite a friend or co-worker to come with you. Everybody is trying to figure out how to make sense of everything rocking our country. I think they’ll find this Sunday really helpful. Everyone you know is hurting, confused, grieving or uncertain. Ask them to join us as we process all of this as a church.
These are hard days for our country. Let’s not turn a blind eye. Let’s lean in, think, mourn, pray, love. And, yes, let’s dare to hope.