ACROSS THE STREET from where I live is a cul-de-sac that got swarmed with police last week. They were looking for the shooter who stormed into a neighborhood bar and grill that I’ve eaten at many times. They have great burgers.
The man that police were hunting is said to have shot three men there, killing one of them.
“Get out of my country!” is what witnesses say the shooter yelled as he fired on two India-born engineers who work for the GPS-maker Garmin corporation a few blocks north of where I live.
My daughter, who lives 10 minutes away from me, gave me a call.
“Do you hear the helicopters flying overhead.”
“No. I’m in the basement.”
“Are your doors locked?”
I leave the front door open so Buddy the Dog can look out the windows of the storm door, into our cul-de-sac. He lays claim to his territory by barking, and sometimes by shaking our entryway rug.
“You better close it.” That’s what my son-in-law said from my daughter’s speaker phone.
As I shut it, I saw that all the nearly dozen houses in my line of sight had their outside lights on. Front and back, as far as I could tell.
I added my lights to the neighborhood because the alleged shooter was still at large. He wouldn’t be caught for several hours, in another town.
My local newspaper, the Kansas City Star, did something I can’t remember seeing it do before. This past Sunday, they ran an editorial on the front page.
If I had to sum up the message in a sound bite, it would be: Let’s make America kind again.
The title of the editorial was “To be truly great, America must be kind.”
There’s a line in the editorial that describes the strengthening spirit of evil that I’ve been observing in recent months—both here and abroad.
“…hatred on the upswing, gossip a thriving business and careless comments a recipe for social media success.”
Some people of faith might say there’s an invisible spiritual dimension in play. Bible writers say the spiritual element is as real as the physical dimension that we can see and touch.
Paul talks about it this way:
“We’re not fighting flesh-and-blood humans. We’re fighting otherworldly beings. These are spiritual forces: leaders, authorities, and rulers of spiritual darkness and evil in the heavenly dimension” (Ephesians 6:12, Casual English Bible).
If Paul were writing today, he might paraphrase the evil powers as real bad dudes.
Or maybe he wouldn’t.
I don’t know what’s behind all the hostility we’re seeing in this country and beyond. And I sure don’t know why so many people in so many countries are backing autocratic strongmen who pit “us” against “them” in their vicious words and their callous orders carried out by their loyal subordinates.
Wherever the evil comes from, whether it’s from inside us or beyond us, Paul offers a way of fighting back peacefully.
Suit up into every piece of God’s armor. You’ll need it…
Strap the belt of truth around your waist and tug it tight.
Protect your chest with the body armor of spiritual integrity.
Slip on boots of the Good News of peace, to help keep you on your feet.
You’ll need the shield of faith, too. Its heavy armor will protect you from deadly flying objects and from your main enemy, Satan.
Don’t forget your helmet of salvation. And take the sword that the Spirit forged for you: the word of God.
Keep yourself in a spirit of prayer. Pray all the time, asking for the help you need (Ephesians 6:13-18, Casual English Bible).
Sounds like a fine list for Christians to live by in times of mean-spiritedness, if not in times of mean spirits: truth, spiritual integrity, peace, faith, salvation, the words of God, and our own words to God in prayer.
But I noticed Paul started with truth.