I know, I know. So many people all talking about Ferguson. I even made a joke that today 50 million bloggers would be posting, telling us all how to think about Ferguson (and I would, probably, be one of the 50 million).
I really wrestled with posting on the issue (obviously I caved). But part of me really dislikes being told I can’t do something, and there was an overwhelming feeling on social media today that white commentators should just be quiet and listen rather than speaking.
I understand the sentiment behind that feeling and I agree that we SHOULD be listening to the stories of other people. Still, asking me not to speak because of the color of my skin is ALSO racist. My skin color doesn’t affect my brain or my spirituality. If pastors were not allowed to speak on issues they had no direct involvement in then we could never preach on a lot of topics. Never having been married to more than one woman I could speak on polygamy. Having never been divorced I couldn’t speak to the biblical view on divorce. You get the point? We speak on the biblical perspective on things even when we don’t have direct experience because we don’t preach our experiences – we preach God’s revelation. That means we can speak to any issue when we come at it from a biblical perspective.
Ferguson and race-relations is no different. I won’t speak to the legal and justice issues, because I’m not a lawyer. I will speak to the idea of biblical behavior, since the Bible is what I know.
We’re all getting it wrong. There seems to be (I’m going to use the word overwhelming again for the second time in a single post) OVERWHELMING feeling that the riots are justified behavior. They are not – at least not from a biblical point of view.
The Bible calls us to exemplary behavior, even when we are mistreated by harsh and unfair people. There is no Christian justification for the Ferguson riots. Before you accuse me of being racist, please note that I also feel that white people were not biblically justified in violent revolution against England (a position I know MANY disagree with).
There is never biblical justification for violent and riotous behavior in order to bring social change. The supreme example of this is Jesus, who never participated in such behavior. When Peter was ready to riot and drew his sword, cutting off a man’s ear, Jesus told him to simmer down.
There is no biblical excuse for the riots in Ferguson.
But the rioters aren’t the only ones getting it wrong. Many of us watching and responding are also getting it wrong. Instead of reacting with compassion and trying to understand the anger and the hurt driving the riots, many get defensive and are content simply to point fingers at bad behavior.
But we need to do better. From a biblical point of view, we are called to care for the outsider, the alien, and the disenfranchised (this is actually an Old Testament AND New Testament concept). Pointing fingers at bad behavior without trying to understand what is motivating the behavior is not seeking to care for the disenfranchised. When the disenfranchised try to tell those in power, “This isn’t right!” the correct response is not, “Sit down and behave!” The correct response is, “Let me help you pursue justice and righteousness.”
This does NOT excuse the riotous behavior. It is simply to say we must do better at caring for those who are not feeling justice being done to them.
There is no easy road forward. There is a lot of anger on both sides that prevents the black and white communities from having real conversations with each other. But God calls us to pursue peace – to be peacemakers. A pastor friend of mine once told me, “The peace that Jesus brought was a costly peace. The peace that He calls US to bring is going to have to cost us, too.”
Until we’re willing to pay that cost and REALLY pursue peace and justice, the conflict will never go away.Follow @chrislinzey
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