If you are like me, you’ve been bombarded by various media sources regarding the ruling in Ferguson, MO. I confess, the ruling did not surprise me, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. You see, I am convinced that though we should work for peace on earth, ultimately until the “Prince of Peace” returns, humanity is simply not equipped to create a culture based on the mutual respect and values needed for that peace.
I in no way intend to sound like an alarmist or a doomsday voice. However I do see patterns in the biblical story which seem to support the above statement. From the story of Cain and Abel, through the Noachic flood, to the the Tower of Babel, humanity just can’t seem to figure out how to live together. The closest we’ve ever come to seeing any semblance of what a unified humanity looks like, is in the writings of the New Testament and specifically the book of Acts. Even there, the challenge to move beyond ethnic divisions is constantly being addressed and seems to be a process in development. Again, my belief is, until the Prince of Peace (Jesus) returns, what we are offered is a foretaste of the glory of the kingdom in which all nations, tribes and peoples will as one glorify the God of Israel.
This foretaste is experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit and the church is called to be a visible manifestation of the coming reign of God. But how can the church be this if we are as fractured, exclusive and racially divide as the society we desire to influence. Again, I do not believe that the issues in Ferguson are solely racist, and as an African American, I may take heat for that statement. I see as the a fundamental question we wrestle with, is “who is in and who is out”? It is a long standing problem that tends to revolved around ethnicity. That is why it cannot be resolved through law, never has a never will. Here are a few reasons why.
Love, respect and appreciating one another are not things that can be produced from the outside in. They’re abstract concepts to begin with, hence very difficult to clearly define. If we cannot clearly define them, how can we possibly somehow sit around a table and develop strategies to bring them into reality. No, the issue runs deeper or as one song writer put it years ago, “still waters run deep”. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that conversations are not needed because they are. I am suggesting that for those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus, the starting point of our conversations needs to be rooted in the biblical story and more specifically, the message of Jesus.
Here’s a thought. Jesus summed up the duty and responsibility of kingdom living by saying, the entirety of the law and the prophets hinges on two fundamental principles, “love God and love your neighbor”. The love that Jesus speaks of is a force or a power that flows from our innermost being as the result of God’s grace. This innermost being is also referred to as the heart. Correct? Ok. So we can say, that humanity has a heart condition that requires a heart transplant. Well isn’t that what the gospel offers? Truly, until the heart is changed, no amount of legislation, rules or protest will enable us to relate to one another and build a society that allows all of us, with our diversity, to experience the quality of life we all desire.
The events taking place in Ferguson and other places in our world are but snapshots of our human inability to appreciate life and value the gift that it is. This heart sickness must be acknowledged, diagnosed and treated like any other life destroying condition. We have an opportunity to respond to the call of the Spirit of God to allow the Great Physician (Jesus) , to treat us all so we all can live into the fullness of life God desires us to experience. My prayer is that, we the church, allow the Spirit of God to perform the transforming work within us so that we truly model a new way to live. I sense that if the church fails to fulfill it’s mission in this hour, we will see many more Fergusons’ playing out in the coming days.
I do not believe the church has all the answers or solutions, but we are invited to partner with God in God’s work of creating new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells.
So I ask you to “pray for our nation and work for reconciliation and renewal”.