Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, was shot dead by a police officer this week, and I’m still chewing on what this means to us.

1. Can’t shake these words: Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression. (Isaiah 1:16-17) Perhaps it requires humility to recognize that justice is learned. Let’s learn.

2. Worlds are colliding. I keep hearing versions of the same question: Are things getting worse, or has it always been like this? If someone has lived in the mainstream majority culture, they have never had to seriously consider moments like these. But the world has changed, and everybody is now confronted with what many have seen for generations.

3. This is not an isolated incident. Let’s be honest; there just happened to be a witness who happened to have a phone and an angle where he could record what took place. Without such clear evidence, the original, official story would have been accepted. The only narrative we ever hear is that of the survivor, which can obviously incentivize someone to not have a survivor.

4. Non-minorities need to wrestle with the fact that black people, especially men, fear the police and regularly fear for their safety. If I’m working late it never crosses my mind to stop working, hurry up and get home, so I’m not out on the streets. When I am stopped by an officer, I never think to call my wife, put the phone on speaker, and start praying for my safety. My wife doesn’t begin to tremble, praying that God will spare my life. When my daughter drives around town I have never warned her not to drive with too many white friends because she might get pulled over for DWW, driving while white. I never warn my sons not to wear their clothes in certain ways or to be out at certain times of the day. My majority experience can leave me ignorant and unaware of the minority experience.

5. It is indeed ironic that so many of the people who publically disrespect the office of the president are the quickest to demand honor and respect toward the office of a policeman. Romans 13 is a good read for all of us.

6. Accountability does not change the human heart, but it does restrain human behavior. And restraint is a big part of the justice-working function of government. We behave differently in the context of acountability. I am a pastor of a church and I certainly hope that people trust me as a spiritual leader. Yet we have very real measures in place to help me stay above reproach, because accountability makes it easier to remain virtuous. I assume that the overwhelming majority of police officers are faithful, dignified, and trustworthy – just as I assume most pastors are above reproach. They lay their lives on the line on a regular basis. Thank God for their service. But just as the position of a pastor could be a snare for those given to abuse of authority, the position of a police officer could easily set people up to abuse power. How do we functionally learn to do good and correct oppression in our context? I know it’s costly, but I’m sold on putting body cameras on officers. And when tragedy occurs, the investigation should be from outside, not inside the local department. Seek justice.

7. We now have another opportunity to do something unique. Everybody expects all the kids to run to the black side of the cafeteria or the white side of the cafeteria. Everybody expects Sundays to remain the most segregated time of the week. Everybody expects whites to be predictably insensitive (“Look at all that back child support.”) and blacks to be predictably hard (“Nothing has changed!”). Everybody expects people to define themselves by their race.

But what if we embrace our race, while defining ourselves by His grace? While governments and systems and cameras can restrain our hearts, only the grace of Jesus will change our hearts. What if we found our ultimate identity in the grace-family of God. What if we offered the unpredictable alternative made possible in reconciling power of Jesus Christ. God with us. But we’ll never find a way to understand one another until we look to the One who made a way to understand us. Black-white. Men-women. Hispanic-gringo. I can name a thousand ways to divide, but there is one way to reconcile.

At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light.

blog - cross

For further reading about contemporary American policing and the possibilities for improvement click: here

Published by Mike Patz

Question isn't merely, Will I go to heaven when I die? but, Will heaven come to earth while I live?

7 thoughts on “#WalterScott

  1. 5) To publicly disagree with the president does not disrespect the office of such. It is our duty toward God to do so.

  2. I agree. Individuality and uniqueness is a part of the variety God created to enjoy, not to be afflicted and ruled and deceived by evil. We are all under the covering of God’s grace, love, understanding. Shouldn’t we consider learning from the history that can repeat itself? Shouldn’t we show respect to government leadership and authorities of law by covering them in prayer, not critical slander? Nations(nationalities) should come together to fight against evil not against different(race, gender, styles, etc). The fight against evil of slavery and religious war should be top priority for all CHURCH… Let us not segragate or draw too much attention to just the accomplishments of any minorities, instead let us also celebrate how beautiful it is when we are together celebrating Kindom Things and relationship with Creator God. In the midst of this we see the beauty from each of us, no matter what age, race or gender. No matter our profession. If we live in Christ we are new creatures saved by His blood! We are lovers of truth not deception and lies! We are ALL HIS! Yes the Word speaks that war, death, evil, sin, deception is there, but I have to believe the Church and those who recognize that worlds have collided need to use God’s word and pray for wisdom/ discernment and act on the ways that overcome and bring life to those who live amongst it and do have need to take precautions…they desire change, hope, healing, freedom! God may we know our part that helps each and every day and now that we can see more give the means and focus to do more! Amen

  3. Pastor Mike,
    I love you and I really listen to every word you preach. You have been my pastor since I was a youngster and I have a lot of trust in you. I still watch you living here in Seattle. I my goal is not to disagree, but there are things that are assumed and I believe way too general.

    This is just how I feel. I do not speak for other officers, because we are all different.

    You stated in #4 that black men are afraid for their safety when stopped by the police……Not all black males. I know many who are not. I believe this generalization of blacks and officers to be quite wrong. We do not know how everyone in this world thinks or believes. When someone on the media states that they are speaking on behalf of the Christians, that’s impossible. That person does not know me and how I would act in a certain situation. Same for someone speaking on behalf of blacks or officers. God made us all different for a reason.

    In #3, to assume that if it had not been for the video, the officer would have gotten away with murder is not accurate. We don’t know. I can say that without the video, the evidence of shell casings 30 yards away from Walter who was shot in the back would not be in favor of the officer.

    And on #6, I agree strongly of having body cameras. Some people believe it will make officers more accountable, but could also show that most officers actually do have integrity and do treat people with respect. Not all do of course. And the cameras would help weed out those bad apples.

    I have been an officer for 9 years and it is hard to view the job of an officer if you have never done the job. Once again I can only speak personally, because I am the only one other than God who knows me best.

    Everyday I go to work I pray for protection and for the Holy Spirit to guide my decisions for that day. I never know what I will have to respond to. My last words to my wife before I leave for work is always “I love you”. Just wearing a uniform puts a target on your back. Which is why most officers have a heightened awareness. Officers do not know if the person walking up to your vehicle is wanting to ask for directions or they are trying to get close to ambush and shoot you. So I do know what it is like to fear for your safety.

    I pray that I would never have to use my weapon on duty. But if it would protect someone, other than me, from a life threatening situation I know I would have to. BUT!!!!!!!! I have also prayed about this and I turned the scenario to, What if someone was trying to kill me? Could I shoot and kill them? Legally? Yes. Spiritually? I don’t know if I could. If I die, I know I will be with Jesus. But I don’t know about the person who would try to kill me. I would want them to live and come to know Jesus.

    While at work I have to arrest people and it took me many years to realize that God wants me to love criminals . I tell you what, it was a journey to learn to love the person who just punched you in the face.

    I don’t know what else I can say. I’m not writing to change anyone’s views, but I’m just providing my point of view. Once again not all officers would agree with me. We are all beautifully and wonderfully made by God. And therefore different even if we look the same on the outside.

  4. I love our Savior. I love The Church; Our church, Greenhouse. Words like this, in times like this, carrying the Power of the cross are our only Hope. Me and my wife build the future of our young daughters and our Marine Corps son on the Rock of The Lord And His Word. Praise God for you Mike and all the Pastors at GH! We are thankful that you nurture us with constant streams of His Truth and Wisdom. God continue to rain Your blessings on our pastors! Use them by your Spirit to break our Hearts so that we will love each other and change this broken idea we often have of this beautiful gift you have given us that we call race.

  5. Solid, timely words, my friend. Good, straight guidance for all, Christ’s followers & society at large. Thanks for displaying the wisdom you’ve continued asking for & He’s faithfully given. Keep being courageous.


  6. I believe that over the years, the number of pastors who have failed due to corruption, lust, greed, pride, and the lives they have destroyed, may surpass that of police officers who have failed in their positions. Police officers guard and protect our physical being, pastors guard and protect our spiritual being, one has eternal ramifications.

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