LISTEN TO EP.87
How Should the Church Respond to the Tragedy at Uvalde, Texas and Other Mass Shootings?
Do the continual reports of mass shootings leave you feeling helpless and questioning if there is anything you can do? Join co-host Scott Young and our guest, Oletha Barnett, theologian, lawyer, and conflict resolution specialist, as they discuss the violent evil that has been unleashed across the country. Barnett provides a framework from which the church can respond as she discusses the root cause, how the culture has infiltrated the church, and the solution to pushing back the darkness. Discover a powerful (often forgotten) way to push back the enemy in times like this. If you desire to overcome evil, listen to how your influence can make an impact in times like this.
Welcome to the Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young, host, along with Dave Donaldson, who is out on assignment today, and we will do our best without Dave today. We have an interesting, fascinating program today. Of course, we’re here to see the influence of your life increase to make your world a better world. And the world we live in a better place today. We’re talking about evil. And to say that evil is on the rise in our communities is probably an understatement over the Memorial Day weekend, 14 recorded mass shootings. And that’s on the heels of what took place on May 24th. There in Texas as 21 innocent lives were taken.
When I was growing up, the words, “school shootings”, were never spoken. They weren’t anywhere in the social consciousness. Today, we see in the last few decades, an increase of evil and it is heartbreaking. It causes us to search our souls and ask, “Why, what can we do?
Or what should we do?”, today on the Influencers Podcast, “Evil, an enemy to be overcome”.
Our guest today, we are so glad to welcome you. Oletha Barnett, who has just got a diversity of gifts that will help us in this conversation: a theologian, a lawyer, a resolution specialist. She brings faith and law. And really, I think the outcome of both of those disciplines is resolution. She’s a wonderful guest. She has a background of working with the church. She has been commissioned by the elders of her church Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship church there in Dallas, Texas with the great Pastor, Dr. Tony Evans. She’s been commissioned by her elders to bring conflict resolution. She serves on the board of Peacekeepers Ministry. She’s certified to bring reconciliation, to bring relationship enhancement, and to help human behavior. I just want to ask you as I welcome you, what did you feel when you heard about the shooting there in your home state of Texas? What were the feelings, the emotions that you had?
Responding to the Uvalde Tragedy
Yes, thank you for having me before I answer that question. I’m elated to be with you, but I felt pain almost to the point of tears imagining what those children could have been thinking as they saw their classmates being shot and them themselves, it’s still painful. Quite frankly little children made in the image of God just wiped out by evil. It was very painful.
Would you also, just in the last few decades, agree with me that we’ve just seen an upward spike to the right of increase of just these violent issues in schools? And today in a medical center, what do you think is causing that sharp increase? Is it cultural? Is it psychological? Is it Spiritual? What do you think is the cause of this as people say, why is this happening?
I believe Scott, that it’s everything you mentioned. However, the real root cause is Spiritual.
It’s an evil, there’s a meanness in our society, a hatefulness, and it’s just running rampant. As you said, in the last number of decades, the killings and the gun violence has just incredibly increased and it’s a Spiritual matter. It starts in Genesis and the Garden of Eden, when Adam ushered in sin, Adam and Eve. And as a nation, we have become increasingly more wicked and throughout history, we know that God blesses godly nations. And when we reject God, He rejects us. And it’s to hit the nail on the head. I believe it is strictly Spiritual. We’ve turned our backs on God. We wanted it our way. And it now it’s like, He’s saying, have it your way.
And the Scriptures talk about how our battle is not against flesh and blood. I know there would be contributing factors of isolation, breakdown of the family, lack of fathers, but there is something that we’ll talk about today that won’t be on a lot of programs and that’s the Spiritual darkness. The demonic that actually the Scriptures tell us needs to be resisted. And I think you talked about it that we need to submit ourselves – is what the Scripture says, submit ourselves to God. Then we can resist the devil, the demonic, the evil, and the outcome is that evil will dissipate or flee away. So how do we take those Spiritual ideas and start to live them out in our daily walk, as we are in a culture and society that sees this incredible darkness growing?
That can only be done by Christians. It appears in many ways that the culture has infiltrated the church rather than the church flowing out to the culture. And when this church stands up to be the church and we show our love, the Bible is clear that we will know Christ’s disciples – You will know them by their love. And when we love one another and we put that love in the culture it makes a difference. We’ve allowed evil to run rampant. Evil is in the culture. There’s hate there’s vitriol. Whether it’s on social media, everyone tends to make someone who differs from them, an enemy, and that there’s all or nothing. And you’ve got all of this running rampant. And when the church shows the way, when we are the light to the darkness that you spoke of, the demonic activities, because we are not wrestling against fleshing blood, as you well said.
But the Bible does say Paul writes to his friends in the Corinthian church that we have divine power. He says absolutely to “demolish strongholds”. So I would imagine that part of that divine power is to be known by love, which Jesus says that, “You’ll know you’re my followers, not by your creeds, not by your political positions, but you’ll be known by love.”
Being Known for Our Love
How can we help individuals, myself, and the community I’m part of that I worship with and the community you’re there in Dallas, with how can we help our communities, our faith communities to love deeper, higher, better than we have been?
Nice. Well, we do it by example, and we also do it by II Corinthians 5:17. I believe it is II Corinthians, 5:17-20. It talks about being ministers of reconciliation. Now that’s not just for preachers and teachers. Well, you know, that very well as a pastor yourself it’s for every believer. So we have a ministry of reconciliation to first lead people to Christ and then to live peaceful, reconciled lives ourselves. And to help others do the same, every believer has the Holy Spirit and Acts 1:8. It says we have been given power. So we’ve got the power in us to do it – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead works in every believer. Believers go around anemic, not recognizing and using the power that God has given us to be a light and to help others.
Is Prayer Affective for Demolishing This Evil?
Do you think beyond loving our neighbors and loving our enemies even, that we have some responsibility for prayer, intercessory prayer, and how does that affect the darkness and the demonic that Paul talks about as rulers and principalities and powers in this world? How does our prayer life influence the kingdom of darkness?
Yes, in fact my church and also Dr. Evans’ organization the, Urban Alternative, has that three prong attack – three prong approach. That’s not quite what he calls it, but the first part of it is assembly prayer. We know the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. There is power in prayer when we touch the Throne of God through prayer. So prayer is critical. And then we have a responsibility in our communities to share Christ, to show the way. And then we have what we call acts of kindness, just like evil, to infiltrate society. The culture of kindness can do the same. You know, Jesus had 12 disciples and the Gospel went all over the world. We each have a personal responsibility and we can certainly get more than 12 and then we can infiltrate the culture with acts of kindness.
One of the things we have done is we have schools, we have teachers and immediately following this most recent, and we’ve done in the past, we begin to call those schools by name, those teachers by name. And I would just encourage individuals that are listening to the Influencers Podcast today, I’m separate, it’s not in my neighborhood, the shootings over this last weekend, they were all hundreds of miles away from me, but I feel that I have some responsibility for the community that I live in and your pastor and your church and there in Texas, we have to pray intercede. As Paul says, when he’s talking about the Spiritual equipment that we have, that we have the helmet and the breast plate of righteousness and the belt of truth, that we walk in peace reconciliation, that we have a shield of faith and a sword of the Spirit. And then he says, and “pray in the Spirit, on all occasions.” So I think this is an occasion and we should encourage people to pray in the Spirit, which I think has got a lot of layers to it. I think we pray it with the inspiration of the Spirit, that the Spirit inspires us as we pray. I think when we pray the Word of God, because the Spirit gave us the Word of God. We’re praying in the Spirit when we pray the Scriptures. And I think Spiritual language, when we pray in a language the Spirit inspires us to pray. I think it really I think we have a responsibility to push back the darkness in this generation and not just curse the darkness, not just curse the polarization. I think you talked about it that if you’re not for me, you’re my enemy. Yeah. And that’s just not true.
Yes, that’s right. And pushing back the darkness, how do you dispel darkness with the Light? And, yes. We can, we can push it push it back.
Diversity of a Different Kind
So you’ve written a fascinating book called, “Diversity of a Different Kind”, which is a fresh approach to resolving conflict. People that are at odds with their culture, their society. What are the truths that are in that book that would help people to walk in peace on the planet rather than in conflict on the planet?
As I said before, we tend to make people who differ with us, enemies. Enemies. God created diversity. And when, I mean, diversity, I’m just simply talking about differences. Whether it be personality clashes – the one that we’re more familiar with. We talk personality, gender, race. In fact, there are 12 differences, common to man, in the book that often bring conflict. And that fresh approach, that theory that God gave me is that He created diversity to make us holy more than just because He loves diversity. We’ve said, “Look around, God loves diversity”, but it’s more than that. God is strategic. He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us. He also gave us diversity because when we encounter those diverse situations, it gives us opportunities to practice Biblical principles, to help us grow. And the theory specifically says, “God gave diversity to give us naturally arising situations to help us to grow, to be Christlike.” So all of these things that are causing division, when we submit to God, resist the devil and put the love of God on it, it helps us grow. Adversity, builds character. And we take that natural sinful response away and we put the love of God on it, and we grow, we help the ourselves and the culture in doing so.
What you said is so great. People are looking and maybe they’re in conflict with someone, maybe they’re at odds with somebody. But what you just said could be there to be the stepping stone to the next place of your Spiritual development. So the very thing that you may see as a curse, but it could be a blessing when you see it in the right light and allow I just allow the Spirit to work. I think the first century church had to do it. They had some ethnic issues that they had to overcome. They had this Jew and Samaritan thing going on and they had this male female thing going on. And the Spirit had to keep working on those early Christians to keep bringing them to the place that they could turn their world upside down.
Preventing Tragedy but Reaching Isolated People First
When I look at this, the statistics of our world, I think we need to see the world turned upside down again. We need something that will say, “We’re not just going to curse the darkness. We’re going to light a light. We’re going to be a voice of reconciliation. We’re going to be a voice of peace”. And I appreciate your voice in that conversation. And this book that you have written, how do people get ahold of that? Like those 12 things I’d like to figure those out. I’d like to hear about them and just understand this fresh approach to conflict that you have. And then I want to circle back to the book, and then I want to circle back to ask about how can we help reach some of these people that are on the edge that are isolated, that they’re sitting in their basement? How can we help them? Because they’re the ones that the enemy’s whispering in their ears and how can we help them? So first, just tell me about how to get ahold of the book to learn about that, like what can we do as a church, as individuals, to help people that have become so isolated, so broken that they’re listening to those lies that the enemy would be speaking into their soul? It’s, it’s such a dark thought to say, “Go to an elementary school, take lives, shoot teachers”. That’s a dark voice. So first the book, and then maybe few reflections on how we can help isolated people.
The book, you can certainly get it at the bookstore in at my church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.
That’s a long way away from me. So that’s a long, I need a closer venue.
Yes, yes. And you can order it. You can call my church and order. However the easy way is just amazon.com. And you can put in the name of the book or my name “Barnett” – it’ll pop right up with either of those.
So give the name of the book again.
Diversity of a Different Kind; A Fresh Approach to Resolving Conflict. That that’s the subtitle, “A Fresh Approach to Resolving Conflict.
Well, somebody’s listening right now that is in conflict and this is exactly what they need to get ahold of. Now just come, come with me to the enemy. He looks for weak people in the flock of the earth. And he is trying to manipulate them to forward his agenda, which is to kill and to steal and to destroy. How can we find them? How can we love them? How can we speak to them? And how can we rescue them before they get to the brink of going off the edge of the cliff?
Yes, yes. Part of the problem and a big part of it, if not the primary, is that those people have no hope. They have no hope and they are in despair. And because they have no hope, darkness is able to come in and lead them in that direction. And the way we help them is to give them hope. There is a better way. And those people generally, there are some Christians around who may see those people in darkness. So we have an individual responsibility for those around us, that we see to give them hope, to point them to Christ. You talked about the early church and I was mindful when you mentioned the early church, despite all the diversity they had, just like we have one of the early church fathers, said that even the pagan said, “See how they love one another.” And if we could do that, they can see us loving one another and them pouring love on them, giving them hope. That young man, as I understand, the one in Uvalde, felt bullied by students. Obviously that was not a reason to do it, but he had no hope. Someone needed to have given him a hope. So if each one can reach one, every believer when you see people in that seem to be hopeless or in despair, pour the light of God on them, love on them. Encourage them, give them hope because no one may have ever done that before.
Love really turns people’s worlds around.
Yes. I I’ve been thinking this last week. Just about the early church you mentioned early church father, we’ve got these documents from the early church, the Apostles Creed, it’s repeated in many, many churches, but the word love is not in the creed. And the word love is not in the Apostles Creed. It’s very strong on “this is who God is”, “This is who Jesus is”, but Jesus’ whole message was, “Let me sum up the Bible. Let me take all of the Scripture and let me give it to you in the reader’s digest version: ‘Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, love the people that you can see, and love the life that God has given to you’.”
And I love your message. I really would love to ask you. I think we we’ve talked about prayer and I think there’s power in United prayer. We have people that are listening yes. Now to this podcast. And if you could lead us in a united prayer to push back darkness, to bring peace and reconciliation, it would be a great honor to have that.
Thank you for asking me. I’ll be happy to thank you, Father. You are a good and gracious God, the God of the universe, Lord, we pray regarding all the evil that’s going on now. That you would show us the way we need you. And we cannot do this without you Lord, we’re praying that believers will individually take responsibility. We’re praying Lord, that the churches will collectively get together even across denominational lines. Yeah. There’s so many things that separate us, Father, we pray for individual Christians, we pray for our churches. Lord, we pray for the culture and we recognize and understand that the culture will not see without the light that you have given us. So let the church stand up to be the church, Lord and help us to turn this around. Appears as though we are under judgment Lord, but we can turn that around based on what we do as believers. So help us Lord. We need you we pray Lord that there will be a time to come. That people will be able to say, “Look what God has done for our nation”. Yeah. We ask you in the powerful matchless name of Jesus. We pray. Amen.
Amen. And let the church say amen.
Thank you so much, Oletha Barnett.
Thank you for having me.
Theologian, theologian, attorney and minister of reconciliation. Thank you so much for being with us on the Influencers Podcast, a delight to talk to you and for all our friends that are listening, reminding you that God has called you to be salt in a world that needs you to be light in a dark place and to bring God’s love to people that need it. Look around there, around you increase the influencer of your life for the Influencers Podcast. I’m Scott Young.