Almost certainly by now, each of you are more than aware of the Stockley trial verdict. No doubt by now, you’ve been filled with some sort of emotion as you await the repercussions here in our city. As your pastor and as a fellow Christian, let me offer a few thoughts of encouragement from Scripture as we wade through these uncertain times.
Events such as these will undoubtedly bring out mixed emotions from all parts of society. Many will respond to this news with sadness, others with relief, and others with anger. Whichever emotion you resonate with, let me encourage you from the words of God Himself from 1 Peter 3:10-12 – “For the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
I’m struck with how this passage speaks so directly to our current situation. We are called as believers to turn away from evil, and instead to both “do good and to seek peace. I’m reminded that one day when I stand before God, I won’t have to answer for Jason Stockley, Anthony Smith, or Judge Wilson – but I will have to answer for how I responded and acted in times such as these. I will have to give an account for whether I stood for justice, whether I kept my emotions in check, whether I grieved with those who are grieving, and whether I comforted those who are hurting. And so will you.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, do not take lightly the importance of how we respond on days like today. Do not be arrogant or prideful in thinking that you have everything figured out (Proverbs 8:13). Do not try to explain away these tragic events and the real grief and pain that many people in our city are experiencing (Romans 12:15). And above all, let your words, actions, and responses be ultimately pleasing to God (Romans 12:1). Be kind, loving, patient, peaceful, self-controlled, caring, and understanding. Seek justice, fairness, forgiveness, and unity. In pursuit of these things, may we come together as the body of Christ to love this community, speak truth in the midst of lies, and offer the eternal hope of the Gospel in a hopeless world.
Forever a Bondservant to Christ,