Racism, Ferguson and The Solution

Dec 4, 2014

Can We Find An Answer For Ferguson?

Earlier this week, I voiced my opinion about something I thought was not being considered in the discussions about the actions and reactions in Ferguson. My intention in writing the article was to support police officers and say “thank you.” I wanted that post to encourage a conversation, but I did not offer a way to solve the hatred, violence, crime or pain.

What I Know About Ferguson

I am not there on the ground, so I do not know much other than what I’ve seen in the news.

The only thing I can base my perspective on is what I’ve read about it and what I’ve heard from my friends and some of our people in NewSpring Church. I have friends who are police officers who have felt the tension of not handling a situation in a way that would get them in the national news.

I know there are people in our church who have experienced everything from unkindness to outright hate from people of a different skin color. For that, I am truly saddened and unhappy because God cares about different races. Unfortunately, anger and tension between people of black, white and other backgrounds is still something we’re seeing in South Carolina, so we had a message devoted to the question of interracial dating and marriage.

Frustration is a natural response for what we see happening in Ferguson. But frustration cannot keep us from looking for ways to understand each other’s backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.

Who’s Wrong In Ferguson?

The issue is not primarily a race issue or a violence issue. As Benjamin Watson said in his Facebook post (which is AWESOME), “…the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem…”

I agree with Mr. Watson, the cause of violence and racism is sin. Pride tells us the lie that we’re better than someone else. No matter who we are, we will never fully understand the mindset someone is in until we sit down with them and listen to what they say, hear about their experiences and consider how they see things — that is how we treat others with respect and kindness (Philippians 2:3-4).

The truth is, there are people who’ve been treated with disrespect and aggression in our own communities around South Carolina—whether a young black man being eyed suspiciously, a white police officer who fears for his life during every response or a person who’s questioned for their legal status in this country. All kinds of people are treated wrongly in all kinds of ways...and that is why we all need a solution that is beyond ourselves!

You are free to have an opinion about what’s happened and what is happening in Ferguson and all over. But what matters is not our opinions, but God’s perspective. It’s not about what we think should happen, but about what God wants to happen.

What Is The Answer?

The Gospel—period! 

The Gospel is the ONLY THING that has the power to strip away our prideful determination to see ourselves as superior to someone else because of his or her skin color. 

The Gospel is the ONLY THING that will stop violence and acts of aggression towards people. 

The Gospel is the ONLY THING that can heal the pain of those who have been targeted for a senseless act of violence because of their race.

The Gospel is the ONLY THING that will bring people to the table and seek to understand each other rather than condemn each other. 

The Gospel is the ONLY THING that will bring peace and stability to a world that is dominated by fear and uncertainty. 

The Gospel is the ONLY THING that will eradicate the pride and arrogance that holds hands with racism. 

The Gospel works – period!

Political correctness can change our language, only Jesus can change our hearts. And I believe that Ferguson has shown us that the church has WAY MORE work to do as we see over and over in the Scriptures that the goal of the Gospel in the Scriptures is to reconcile people to Christ and each other. 

Jesus calls us out of our disagreements, out of our mistreatment of each other and into connection with people different than us. God’s justice is always better than our justice, and we should never think we’ve got a solution better than He does!

One of the most powerful passages in Scripture I’ve ever read on the subject of race is Revelation 7:9-10, “9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

I remember the day I was reading that particular text and it hit me…there will be no separation or segregation in heaven! Why? Simple — because the presence of sin will be eliminated by the presence of Jesus. And, if Jesus can bring every nation, tribe, people and language together “up there” then I am crazy enough to believe He can do that “down here” as well…through the power of The Gospel. 

One more thing…

I want to acknowledge and say “thank you” to the way that several owners of our church responded to this post. You let me know that you love me and our church, but the original post about Ferguson hurt or offended you because you feel I neglected to mention the issue of racism. If that was you, I want you to know I am deeply sorry. I apologize if my original post came across as insensitive to race relations. My intention was not to be offensive in any way, but to try encourage police officers for the amazing job so many of them do each and every day. My heart was not to offend you! I hope you can forgive me…and then let’s get ready to celebrate as we are getting ready to have THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER at NewSpring