My mind and heart is a jumbled up and convoluted mess. I’m sad and I’m angry and of course it’s about the confusion and deep and pervasive pain in Ferguson. And if you aren’t sad and angry then I would say maybe something died inside of you a long time ago. Because there’s a young man dead and parents who will never, ever get over it and there are businesses being burned and a whole lot of folks hating on one another and a whole bunch of others who are living in fear for their families…and so much more pain on so many levels. But what makes me just as sad and just as angry is what Ferguson says about the state of relational affairs in our nation as a whole. We didn’t just become a relational mess. We’ve been a relational mess. Ferguson simply displays the anger, tension and frustration that have been lingering beneath the surface of our lives…well, forever.
I’m not smart enough or wise enough to comment perfectly on any of this. In fact, there are articles flying around the internet already that are thoughtful, truthful and powerfully written – and several of my close friends like Pastor Larry Glass, Pastor Sam Jackson, Pastor Shaun Marshall and my long time sisters in Christ Phyllis Lee and Anitra Bruce Leena have made cogent, passionate, powerful statements on Facebook that stand strong all on their own.
But as a human being and follower of Jesus Christ – I’ve got to say something – however imperfectly. This is from my gut – and is written especially with fellow believers in mind:
First, I’m sick to my stomach at the racial unrighteousness that has impacted so many – especially my friends and brothers and sisters in Christ – over the years. I hate it for you. I hate it for your children. I hate it for me. I hate it for my children. It is against God who created us equal. It spits on Christ who died to reconcile us all to one another in Him. It labels us, steals our true identity as sons and daughters of God in Christ and diminishes our common humanity. It shuts down transparency, vulnerability and intimacy – and thus keeps us from loving one another as completely as we are called to love. It flat out hurts us – deeply and pervasively – and sometimes even kills us dead.
Second, I’m committed to fighting this unrighteousness – in the name of Jesus Christ – as hard as I can for as long as it takes, no matter what the cost. I know those are big words and I don’t even always know how to live them out. But we are brothers and sisters in Christ and our common identity in Him is the truest reality I know. You are my family. Actually, all of humanity is my family and I will fight unrighteousness for them and with them as well. But it is incumbent upon those of us who know The Righteous One to first come alongside one another to display the type of solidarity that so often eludes the world at large. I want to hear your story. I want to know your story. At the deepest levels, my story is intertwined with your story and our destinies are equally connected. If you hurt, I hurt. If you weep I weep. If you rejoice, I rejoice. If you go down or your family goes down, my family and I go down with you. If you win or your family wins – my family and I win with you. For those of you who know me, I don’t even have to say it but for those of you who may not: I’m in – with you – for the long haul. No matter what. I may stumble. I may not always get it right. But in Jesus’ name, I’m not going anywhere. Because there’s nothing more important to me than you…and the Christ who lives in you. And I really, really pray you feel the same about me. Because I truly, desperately need you. I cannot t walk alone.
Finally, I pray that somehow through all of this satanic poison and pain, we can together begin to look like the true body of Jesus Christ. Homogenous Christianity is an oxymoron. I reject it. I’m tired of acting like it’s “ok” and just “another way” to do Kingdom living. That’s a lie. And the more we live that lie or shrug at the way other believers in Christ live that lie – the more we deny that Jesus loved Samaritans and Romans and Greeks and Phoenicians and Asians and Africans…just as much as He loved Jews. We deny that the purpose of the cross was to bring us not only to God…but also to one another. We deny that Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek…but we are all one in Christ.” And we deny that our final destiny is to live eternally in an intimate, God-praising community made up of folks from “every tribe, tongue, people and nation” – all rescued from the kingdom of darkness through the blood of the Lion of Judah who loved us so much He became the slaughtered Lamb. And last, as a byproduct of our disobedience, we implicitly give more Fergusons space to live and breathe…and kill.
I’m praying fervently for the Ferguson family who lost their son. I’m praying for the officer involved and for his family. I’m praying for those who have lost businesses. I’m praying for those who have lost the will to go on. And yes, I’m praying against the systemic racism that still lives in so many institutions in America today. But I’m also desperately praying that all of us who believe in the reconciling Jesus will come through this satanic hurricane more surrendered to loving, valuing and even being willing to die for each and every human being…the same way that Jesus did. Because indeed, my brothers and sisters, that is our world’s only hope.