Benjamin Watson, Tight End for the New Orleans Saints, recently issued a powerful response to the chaos occurring in Baltimore following the death of 25 year old Freddie Gray, arguing that the love of God is the "only hope" for reconciliation.
On Tuesday, Watson shared his poignant thoughts on Facebook: "We have major problems as a nation," he wrote, citing the protests in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown and the recent violence in Baltimore, in which 15 police officers were "severely" injured and 230 people arrested.
"Tomorrow it will be another city in our homeland. Watching the coverage I'm hearing yet another version of a nauseatingly familiar narrative. Violence by police reciprocated by violence by the community, reciprocated by violence by police reciprocated by.... It seems fruitless to continue to analyze, condemn, and respond to these dreadful episodes. "Frustration, anger, tension boiling over, upset and unfortunate" are words we hear from Baltimore residents."
The NFL star explained that society continually attempts to fix the "broken systems" of law enforcement, race, poverty, education,and immigration, and works to create legislation for education, job creation, and systemic overhaul. He notes that while these things are helpful and "definitely needed," they don't address the heart of the issue.
"Without a change of heart these attempts fail us. So what can we say? What can we do? Systems are broken because people are broken and if systems are fixed without hearts being changed the result will be a legalistic attempt that will lack long term results. Our problems are holistic and common to the human heart. Hatred, prejudice, exploitation, pride, self righteousness, secrecy, and rebellion, manifest itself in the explosions we've seen over the last year, the last century, and the last millennia."
"Tonight I see so much entrenched pain without remedy. Most are handling it without violence while a few are committing the unacceptable," he said, referencing the rioters who on Monday night committed arson, injured police, destroyed buildings and looted stores.
"Tonight I see young children, asking like my daughter did earlier, "What's happening daddy", in desperate need of parents to walk them through these disturbing scenes. "Tonight I see "smoke," but we must address the fire. The response that we are watching is just 'smoke' from years of hopelessness," he continues.
The only way to truly resolve these deep-seated societal issues, Watson emphasizes, is through the Gospel.
"After each situation the more I am convinced that the love of God for our fellow brothers and sisters who were created in His image, is our only hope for reconciliation," he said. "But the only way we can even see him that way is if God illuminates our view and changes our thought process. I'm not talking about holding hands and singing. Love is an action that compels one to treat another with dignity and respect even if they don't deserve it. It pushes for education and opportunities for those in poverty. It gives identity and self worth. It administers justice without abuse. It honors authority and promotes peace. It is not weak, but strong for what is right!"
He adds, "Tonight I see a brokenness that only Christ can give us the wisdom and power to mend."
Watson concludes his message with a powerful prayer: "We pray for every disaster that happens to us. Bombings, natural disasters, cancer and outbreaks. What we've seen in our country lately deserves that same attention. Our attempts to fix this have fallen short."
He continues, "We, and most importantly, the body of Christ, must stand for justice in all areas, for all people. We must set the standard for the correct way to treat people. Tonight I pray for the pastors, leaders, police and community of Baltimore. Tonight I #PrayForAmerica."
Watson's powerful message resounded with readers, who "liked" his post nearly 34, 722 times and shared it another 13, 928 times as of Thursday morning.
"We need more Godly families headed by Godly men. Thanks for being one of them...and for speaking up!" wrote Robyn White.
"My prayer is "come Lord Jesus come" He is the only person that can restore this place and our hearts," added Laura Kueglee.
This is not the first time the 34 year old football player had addressed a societal issue from a Biblical perspective. In November, he took to social media to issue a response to the events occurring in Ferguson, MO, in which police officer Darren Wilson was acquitted in the death of a black teenager, Michael Brown.
After expressing his sorrow at the incident, Watson reminded readers that sin is at the root of all evil in the world, including abuse of authority, racial prejudice, and lying. Therefore, he added, Christians should find encouragement in the blood of Jesus Christ, which covers even the worst of sins.
"God has provided a solution for sin through his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind," Watson wrote. "One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope."
Then, in March, the football star address the rampant persecution of Christians in the Middle East argued that all believers must be willing to face martyrdom for their faith.
"We must WAKE UP from our slumber, be on guard and stand firm," he wrote at the time. "A house divided against itself cannot stand. Spiritual unity in the body will help us weather the coming storms. We must REMEMBER that as terrible as things are and will become, they are simply signs pointing to one thing; His Imminent Return."