#Ferguson: A Gospel Issue

I am so tired of waiting,
Aren’t you,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
-Langston Hughes

It was in my college Liberation Theology class back in 1990 that I first discovered different ‘Gospel’ perspectives – perspectives from those steeped in death and persecution, suffering and scarcity.  We spent evenings at my professors house reading and discussing Gustavo Gutiérrez, Juan Luis Segundo, Leonardo Boff, Jon Sobrino, and a host of African and Asian liberation theologians.  It may have been the first ‘aha’ moment for me, the first realization that the Gospel wasn’t just about getting saved and voting pro-life.

A next significant time came during the year I lived with Tom in the hood in Chicago.  Though I grew up on Long Island with great diversity, I was a suburban kid, mostly protected from the issues Tom grew up with.  Tom was black, and he showed me and told me how different it was for him to leave the apartment and walk down the street.  Here again, I was challenged to wrestle with whether or not the ‘Gospel’ had something to say about Tom’s everyday fear.

In the past 20 or so years, it was been those who I pastor as well as clients I’ve cared for who’ve helped me understand that my life, as a white man with a blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife and daughters, is and will always be different…and privileged.  Even in our mostly Asian neighborhood in San Francisco, we were beloved, celebrities in a way.  I haven’t experienced the kinds of things I’ve heard described by Tom, and by many folks I’ve counseled and cared for.  I haven’t been ignored by waitresses in restaurants, targeted by suspicious law enforcement officers, followed, stared down.  I haven’t been overlooked for a job or a loan.  I’ve rarely felt altogether different.  I haven’t been labeled as “angry” or walked down the street anxiously or wondered what I should wear or how quickly I could walk or what might make me look like a criminal to another.  These have not been my worries.  But they have been Tom’s, and many, many others.

What I’ve seen is that in my privileged white world, the ‘Gospel’ is domesticated.  Ferguson is not on our radar.  I’d dare say for many white evangelicals, today is just another day.  The real scandal would be if some prominent evangelical wrote a pro-LGBTQ book, for instance.  The Gospel is tamed, reduced, narrowed.  It becomes a balm for guilt-ridden souls who crave 140-character tweets reminding us that we’re accepted, but it hardly seems applicable to what is happening in Ferguson.  And, after all, isn’t what is happening there really just about some angry black folks who’ve, once again, made a much bigger deal out of something that clearly was the result of a young black man’s aggression against a police officer?

We don’t get it, friends.  And we can’t, and won’t, until we walk a hundred miles in the shoes of someone very different than us or until our friendships reflect the diversity of society.  Statistics show, in fact, that we have the least diverse social network – 91% white, and only one-percent black.  We naively think that changes in voting rights some forty years ago solved the problem of race.  And as Christians, we become incensed at a Facebook dialogue about abortion or homosexuality, but hardly understand the fury of young black men and women in the streets last night who feel so powerless that throwing stones and burning things provide some outlet, albeit a tragic one, for a voice.  As MLK Jr said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”  But we’ll say, “You see…they are so angry.  Why do they always have to make it about race?”  I’ve heard this so much that my stomach turns and I’ve finally begun calling people out.

This leads me to the important point that Ferguson is a Gospel issue.  Yes, it’s a justice issue and a race issue.  But it’s a Gospel issue.  Now, if you have a tamed and domesticated Gospel tuned into your particular moral litmus test issues, you won’t see this.  But St. Paul did.  For St. Paul, the core of the Gospel was about reconciliation – God and sinner, Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free (Gal. 3:28).  This was the necessary implication of justification by faith alone.  Justification was never simply a get out of jail free card, an individualistic guilt-appeasement balm.  Justification opens the gates to freedom, to reconciliation, to wholeness inside and out.  It puts into contact with the outsider, the person who’ll make us feel uncomfortable, the different – a sexual, racial, and geographic outsider (Acts 8), for example.  It puts us into contact these cut-off parts of ourselves.  It levels the playing field; the powerful are brought down and the powerless are brought up.  And the Gospel invitation, particularly for those of us with privilege, is to go down willingly, to be crucified with Christ, to be the ptochos – impoverished, broken, brought to the end of ourselves, dying like that grain of wheat that must fall to the ground to bear fruit.  All for the sake of the other.  We must go, as hard as it is, first to listen.  We must just begin with listening, though our souls have become so attuned to the endless political chatter and certitude of the Hannity’s and Maddow’s.

Jesus would have been in Ferguson last night.  He wouldn’t have paid a whole lot of attention to a decision on the indictment.  He knows better than any of us how “facts” can be aligned with whatever narrative is preferred.  He wouldn’t have been wearing a hat or t-shirt for a particular side.  No, I think Jesus would have been there standing alongside the family of Michael Brown, holding them, crying with them.  I think Jesus would sit with Officer Wilson, naming the fear and anxiety and anger he was feeling, and reminding him that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  I think he’d be with young men and women who went to bed confused and ashamed that they had participated in violence, looted stores, and started fires.  He’d say, “I get it.  I see the anger.  I’m not going anywhere.  Let’s talk.”

Jesus crosses the barriers.  His Gospel is not domesticated, it is invasive, courageous, pursuing.  God became man, crossing the ultimate barrier, crossing into death, going down, going further than I’d ever want to go.  But we need to, now, with courage.

Far more hinges on how we meet one another from here on out than on an indictment in Ferguson, MO.  Until my white (mostly evangelical) brothers and sisters are as impassioned by this as they are the next Rob Bell book, I don’t see much changing.  And when I say that, I’m not saying that you need to get behind an indictment but get behind your black brothers and sisters, to get into their worlds, their realities, their sufferings.  I’m saying we need to ask questions, to listen, to exercise holy curiosity.  I’m saying that we might have blindspots, might not see so clearly.  I’m saying that we really just don’t get it, at a fundamental level, and must make ourselves available for metanoia.  I’m saying that we need to knock on a black neighbor’s door and say, “I’m sorry I’ve never come by.  I’m confused by everything that is going on, and I wonder if I’m missing something.  I need your help”  We are addicts of privilege and power, and it’s time we acknowledge that we need help.

If we can be fueled by the same passion that led Jesus to cross the ultimate barrier and St. Paul to leave the nest of Jerusalem and cross barriers that left him imprisoned and reviled and ultimately murdered himself, perhaps then we will see the Good News through Isaiah’s eyes:

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
    and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
17 The effect of righteousness will be peace,
    and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
    in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (Isa. 32)

I pray for peaceful habitation, for quiet and secure dwellings in Ferguson today.

56 comments

  1. Powerful words. The Gospel does level the playing field and it absolutely crosses barriers. The Langston Hughes quote you referenced reminded me of where my mind went this morning: To the words from O Holy Night. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.” Shared some similar thoughts on http://www.planbeautiful.com. Thank you for having the courage to speak into this situation.

  2. I’m a white dude. 35 years old and grew up in a trailer. I try to love God and I believe that I have a growing relationship established with Him, through Jesus. I am not trying to argue here, rather just trying to understand what you are saying.
    When you say they convinced you that being white made you privileged. From my perspective God does not see color therefore making none of us “privileged”. In the God of the Bible’s eyes we are all equal which is evident because of the cross. Jesus died for all, excluding none.
    I respect you and your post and kindness you seem to want to extend and maybe I am missing something here.
    So these people think that a white man is privileged but the reality is that any man who has any privilege was given to him by God. Is not Obama’s skin of color, therefore do I not submit to authority because he is of color or regardless of his color do I submit because God wants me to.
    – Fellow Christian

    1. Aaron. Thank you for this. I agree…we’re all beloved sons and daughters in God’s eyes. But the social reality is far different, and I think this grieves God. The reality on the ground is that our black brothers and sisters experience something far different than many white Americans experience. It’s important we listen. And hopefully, we’re all drawn back into the reality of which you speak – that we are all embraced equally in God’s love.

      1. Reality is how God sees life. I can either adjust my worldview to God’s or adjust my worldview to that of any other race, creed, or religion’s principles.
        It is the principles that guide our thoughts (which is a spiritual act – thought). God created the heaven and earth therefore God defines that which is reality. The principle is because God created everything, everything is under his power.
        It was the serpent who deceived Eve and therefore God allowed the serpent to do so. One could ask why God could allow this but it’s futile if you believe in the God of the Bible. Would an all powerful and perfect God preserve a book that condemned Him?
        All this to say that God’s perspective is reality and anything contrary or perverted to what He says is a skewed perception of reality.
        Jesus died for all men for several reasons, one being that he would show us the way. Jesus is the way.

    2. It’s great that you think that way regarding privilege, fellow Christian. We all should. Unfortunately, society at large doesn’t see it that way. The point he’s trying to make in writing this is that it doesn’t matter what we believe or who is in office at the end of the day: racism is still a reality for those of us whose skin color is on the wrong side of tan. The reality is that even though we should not, Blacks and other minorities, both in America and abroad, deal with discrimination both overt and subtle on a regular basis for no other reason than that their skin color is simply too dark. No, it absolutely DOES NOT justify the violence and the looting, but it at least makes an attempt at pinpointing the cause of that mentality. An animal in a trap will chew off its own leg to be free, and humans are no different. So, you grew up in a trailer park? I’m sure you didn’t mean to, but trying to equalize and thereby lessen the severity of the pain and struggle of living life as a black-skinned individual in a country – in a world – that idealizes white skin with dismissive “so-what-I’ve-struggled-too” comments is micro-aggression at best. Just like you, I’m not trying to argue, but I would suggest that if you’re truly trying to understand, I would start with re-reading the article carefully.

    3. Hello Aaron.
      Nice post, and i agree with what you said about us all being equal in front of God.
      However like you also said; you are missing something. The blogger was speaking MOSTLY about the social ”priviledges”…some subtle, some glaring, but ALL VERY REAL nonetheless; of being white.
      He went ahead to speak on how we could help make significant changes…as christians.

      I am African, black; born there, live there. I have never been to your country; matter of fact ever been outside Nigeria but i read an awful lot.
      And sincerely sometimes i wonder why white Americans(even well-meaning ones) love to hide behind one finger. A white cop who kills an UNARMED black male gets to walk away, whilst a black man who killed a police DOG gets 35YEARS in prison. Its clear your country’s judiciary and a huge percentage of its controlling citizens feel that a black man’s life is worth much less than a dog’s.
      And then you wonder why these people are so angry!
      I laughed in disbelief when i saw the pictures posted of Wilson’s ”injuries”. A razor burn looks far more severe.

      Bottom-line, you white American folks need to stop playing possum, stop hiding behind one finger…and if there is any good in the hearts of white Americans (and i know there is), evaluate this whole thing and start making changes. Its a horrible social imbalance but christians there CAN and should do something..for crying out loud. Haba!! -sincerely, another Christian

    4. I think the writer speaks to the privilege or lack thereof relative to the society we live in; not through the eyes of God. To God we’re all equal. But we are not viewed or treated as equal by men.

      I’m a black man. In a male dominated society, being a man comes with some beneift…or privilege. But being black in a white dominated society comes with some disadvantage for me. Trailer park upbringing or not, police won’t see you in a nice car and assume you’re a drug dealer. Store clerks are less likely to follow you around the store suspecting thievery based on nothing other than your presence.

      And yes, as relates this event, a jury and society in general is far less likely to believe a story in which you, while unarmed, attempted to disarm a police officer, get shot, turn and run away, then for some unknown reason decide to stop, turn around and charge at the officer (coincidentally reaching into your waistband for a weapon you don’t have), and while already repeatedly shot and yet unarmed still pose such a substantive threat to an armed officer he had no choice but to shoot you and kill you.

      Society’s view of your humanity makes that story so improbable that anything less than AT LEAST a trial would be unthinkable and unacceotable. Society’s view of people who look like Michael Brown….and me…make that story believable to the point we should just accept it as true and turn the page. That’s privilege in action.

    5. Very, very, very well said Aaron. I am a 48 yr old black female. I pay no attention to stuff like that post because it keeps division alive amongst the people.

  3. Good article, thought provoking too. It has been good to read pastors, theolgians speaking to this issue. I liked the part about what Jesus would be doing in Furgenson. Don’t you think Jesus would have a word about repentance too. Too those full of pride and self righteous, too those full of anger, bitterness. Thanks for your article….

    1. Yes, Tim Jesus would administer grace to the sinner so that they can repent and be cleansed by His blood and filled with the Holy Spirit so they can serve Him. God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in Him will be saved. We have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. But the good news is, Jesus came to give us an abundant life by reconciling us to God the Creator. Sin falls under 3 categories: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. When we live without Christ these things control and drive our very being. But, when we subject ourselves to Christ and He enters our lives and we submit to Him our minds are renewed and we live for Him and He lives in us and through us. Christ works from the inside out. Finally, walk after the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

  4. I don’t agree that Jesus says about sin, “I get it. I see the anger. I’m not going anywhere. Let’s talk.” Jesus would rather say, “I saw what you did. You deserve hell for it. But I died to forgive that sin and all your sins, along with the sins of the whole world.”

      1. Eric is right. The difference is the prodigal son confessed his sin and repented from it Luke 15:18-19. If we confess our sin the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us 1 John 1:9. The rioters need to understand their sin and God’s law before they will understand the gospel. See Romans 7:7

      2. The prodical son received mercy because he was repentant. What did the two thieves on the crosses get from Jesus? The cynical unrepentant one received silence. The repentant one received eternal life. Jesus’ mercy is neither cheap nor indiscriminate. He does distinguish between people according to the state of their heart.

    1. The “let’s talk” allows plenty of room for Jesus to tell them about their sin if he needs to. I think the main point is that if you begin by listening to people and validating their experience it opens a conversation that allows for truth to be taught on both ends.

      Also, I have a feeling that if you were actually sitting across the table from actual, real people and heard their end of the story, you’d find the “you’ve sinned but Jesus died to forgive you” talk woefully inadequate. You’d probably think, “probably the best thing I can do here is just listen.”

    2. Is that how Jesus responded to Matthew the tax collector, or Zachaeus, or the woman caught in adultery, “You deserve hell…”?

    3. Luke 15:21. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”

      But the “best commentators” miss this direct expression of repentance? I would rethink the ranking system used to determine the best commentators then! The prodigal son did repent.

  5. The prodigal responded to the Father’s compassion and generous love, and accepted the invitation to come inside and celebrate. A metaphor for coming into God’s Kingdom. The elder brother was the one who refused and stayed outside. His pride and self-righteousness was a barrier to his salvation, even though he was a Jew. I think this is a warning to us who are “privileged” – including the Christian influence on our lives, as well as the privileges of being white… a warning not to judge, but be like the Father, like Jesus, and show compassion and willingness to forgive. And to see our own sin of self-righteousness, humbly acknowledging our own need for forgiveness.

  6. Reblogged this on To Infinity and Beyond and commented:
    This is good stuff and everything going on in Ferguson is everyone’s battle to fight regardless of your race, religion, or ethnicity. With that said followers of Jesus Christ should be offering support and helping fight this like they would if this was a decision about pro-life. This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than you, it’s bigger than Ferguson, bigger than St.Louis, bigger than America, and bigger than this world. This is a sin problem, a heart issue that can only be reconstructed with the truth of Jesus Christ; His saving power, His mercy, His love and His grace. Go love people where they are; hurting, rioting, unaffected, confused, angry, content, wherever they are emotionally and physically; go be love!

  7. You say that Christ would have been in Ferguson. I disagree. We have no evidence that Christ joined the riots of his time or the actions of the Zealots. Far from it. Further, you implicitly justify rioting and sympathy for it. It should be condemned as destruction of others property, theft, and assault is wrong and condemned by the gospel.

    1. Leroy, I don’t in any way think Jesus could condone rioting. What I’m saying is that Jesus has a heart for the prodigal. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. There is much more I could say, but Christena Cleveland says it much better here – buff.ly/11TlS5C

      1. If Christ were not to condone rioting, and he were in Ferguson, he would condemn it. He would not be there and be neutral when faced with sin.

  8. This is absolute crazy talk. For anyone to equate what is happening in Ferguson with white privilege (whatever that is supposed to mean) is ludicrous. The gospel to which you are referring has been rendered useless by relativism, psychobabble and hint of ecumenical heresy. I am trying to imagine Jesus using the term “white privilege” to explain the Gospel? Ferguson is about a black kid raised in a home where it was okay to be disrespectful of authority. Ferguson is about this black kid smoking dope and getting high because he has no hope. Ferguson is about a black kid intimidating a man and robbing his store. Ferguson is about a black kid who assaulted a cop, tried to shoot the cop with his own gun and then getting shot and killed because he charged the officer. Where in the world did you come up with white privilege as the source of the problem?

    Sin is the problem in Ferguson and the rest of our country. Sin causes black men to father babies with multiple women leaving the majority of black kids fatherless. Sin causes governments to perpetuate generational cycles of dependency and poverty among black people. Sin causes so called black leaders and misguided white preachers from understanding that the war we fight is not against flesh (white, black or otherwise) and blood, but against powers and principalities we cannot see. Jesus came to save the lost no matter what color. It’s about time for ministers to stop with the social engineering projects and to start preaching the Gospel, the only hope of redemption for all mankind.

    1. Johnny, Thanks for your pushback. I’d offer this. I don’t like the language of a “social engineering project,” but what I’m saying is that the Gospel had radical social implications for major social divisions of the day. This is why Jesus and Paul faced the ultimate social and personal consequence – murder. The thought that the Gospel could be for Gentile ‘dogs’, let alone slaves and women was unthinkable. Paul was very much a Gospel social revolutionary. Remember: Sin is both personal and social. Thus, the Gospel is hope for our personal and social woes.

      1. Dr. DeGroat, I completely agree with you which is why I am perplexed that you are asserting that “white privilege” is even remotely the problem in Ferguson. Why is there so much outrage from the Sharptons and Farrakhans of the world when a white police officer kills a black criminal in self-defense (which amounts to less than 1% of all killings of blacks) while there is literally a deafening silence when black criminals kill other blacks accounting for 93% of all black murders? White cops wouldn’t need to be in black neighborhoods if there wasn’t so much crime in these areas. The problem with the black community is the black community.

        My parents were both immigrants who were discriminated against in their homeland and were dirt poor when they came to America for a better life where they were also discriminated against. I never once heard my parents complain or blame someone else. They turned the other cheek, persevered and created a better life for me and my siblings. They focused on the good in this country and I would argue they were successful. God lifted our family out of poverty but my parents did the right things and worked hard and taught their children the same.

        What is happening in the black community is nothing short of a tragedy but it is being perpetuated by the haters, the race baiters and well-meaning people like you who can’t or won’t confront black people to face the problems in their own neighborhoods. It is so much easier to blame white people and enable black people to live in perpetual poverty, bitterness and blame.

        The most radical social revolution in the history of mankind is the radical transformation of a fallen, broken soul through the blood of Jesus Christ, one man at a time. The only requirement to accept this free gift of eternal redemption is acknowledging that I am a sinner in need of grace and mercy, forgiveness and redemption. Acknowledgement. Until the black community acknowledges their own sin in their own community, redemption will never change the hearts of black men or any men for that matter.

    2. Wait (Johnny)……with all due respect, how do you know what Micheal Brown was taught in his own home? Did you live with them? Did you go to school with MB? Or teach him? He graduated HS and was accepted to college. That doesn’t make him an angel. I just want you to realize how difficult a HS diploma is for a young black man in an area like Ferguson. That might not seem like much to everyone else in the country, but it’s huge. His Daddy was visibably present (From the interviews and testimony), and they talked everyday (out of Michael Brown Sr.’s mouth). Micheal Brown’s mother and father weren’t in a relationship & that’s not exclusive to African-American culture.

      Have you ever been a teenager? Have you raised a teenager? If you can say yes to either one of those questions you and I know that we, as teenagers, didn’t always act like we were taught to act. That doesn’t make it right. I’m not justifying MB’s actions that day. He made some horrible choices.

      Can I say this: How does a young man shoot and kill multiple people in a public theatre with multiple weapons get apprehended without injury. Yet is labeled mentally unstable by the media and not seen as enough threat by the responding officer(s) to attempt to injure him. Not once did anyone label him a thug. Not once did anyone call his family history or upbringing into question. Not once did anyone question his character. Why?

      Michael Brown initially charged an officer (that is suspect because Officer Wilson’s incident report was blank) was shot twice initially, produced no weapons and was seen as a threat where the officer used deadly force. He wasnt shot one time below the belt. The officer didnt try to disable him enough to apprehend him until his back-up arrived 90 seconds later. He didnt use his baton or mase for an unarmed teen who was at best guilty of a petty crime. He (MB) was immediately labeled as a thug and the prosecutor did everything he could to discredit witnesses and assassinate MB’s character.

      This article is addressing the very attitude that you are displaying in your comment. Have you ever been to a predominantly African-American community and talked with anyone? That’s what this article is saying. Step outside of the media/statistics bubble and actually address people. That’s the Gospel. Not pointing the fingers condemning them to hell without giving them a chance for repentance.

      The Gospel is real salvation for really broken people. Not a club for the elite. The least become heirs under the blood of Jesus. The Gospel is ruthless and aggressive. It’s also loving and compassionate. Jesus didn’t rudely address the woman caught in adultery or the woman at the well. He extended grace to them, spoke the truth which allowed them to see their own sin. The thief on the cross even got a chance for salvation. That’s the gospel! Not social engineering, not misleading, but meeting really broken people, the least of our society, and loving them right where they are. The love, grace, mercy, and truth they receive point them to the only one that can radically change their life, JESUS. Yes He would have been right there. Speaking to both sides. The Gospel is about reconciliation & not destruction (other than the destruction of sin) on any level.

      Thank you Dr. Chuck for this perspective. I appreciate your wisdom.

      1. I grew up in an inner city neighborhood in Los Angeles and went to LA Unified schools my entire life. I grew up with black people where I was a minority and have many black friends.

    3. Jonny,

      thank you for that post. Please remember that the testimony you believe is the only one you will hear or know of…because the other voice is no longer with us. Therefore, it would seem you have no other choice but to believe the account that was given by the officer. We really don’t know what happened on that day. All we can do is take the living persons word for it. As, for Browns, his voice is no longer with us. Yes, the root of our broken systems and society is SIN but it would behoove us all to try and understand , not tolerate or point fingers, or bring our political presumptions into the conversation but bring Christ at the center of it all. Christ did not point the finger at the women at the well but had an understanding of her circumstance. He had compassion on the crowd because they had no shepherd. I think we can point fingers at those who are different from us are who are lacking and act in a manner of the Pharisees and Sadducees but we cannot deny that fact the Christ was not in the pew, not behind a screen conveying empty thoughts, he came for the lost. If they are SO lost and SO SINFUL what are you fellow brother and sisters going to do about it? We can sit and have circular conversations and beg the questions all day long and get nowhere. But one thing is for sure that every NATION, TRIBE and TONGUE will be around His thrown. Black Lives Matter. Oh, and when I ask what are you going to do brother and sister Christian I am not talking about: handing out your tracks, or going to Guatemala for two weeks, or going into the brown community on Saturday and telling them how bad they are living and how they need to change but can’t because they don’t have the Holy Spirit to do so. I am talking about Love your Neighbor and that means including your enemy. Really get to know and engage someone who is not like you or someone that you dont have commonalities with when is the last time brother and sister Christian you invited a your neighbor over your house for a meal. We are too busy worrying about our earthly treasure that will rust or be taken by robbers to do that now aren’t we? Don’t be caught in the day when Christ says I never knew you…We are to be making disciples and that may mean Christ calling you to do so to a community of the baby making black men who are not taking care or disrespect women and on and on and on. I digress.

  9. Dr. Chuck,

    I like how you charged whites to aggressively deal with their sin (pride, lack of compassion,etc), but I feel like your article hasn’t sufficiently addressed black sin—you wrote to engage the black community, we need to listen first and not consider the judicial decision.

    Thus, we have a stronger message to the whites (I’ve finally begun calling people out) but a softer message to the blacks. I fear the Jesus you have painted here—even though he’s not wearing a polarising t-shirt—still isn’t ready to preach the same gospel to all, inevitably hindering that true, racial-reconciling repentance.

    1. Bradley, I don’t think it’s my place to do that. This was a more general and personal piece…a kind of self-confession, anyway. I think black leaders and pastors are doing what you say. I think that right now, those of us who are white need to listen. Humble ourselves. You know as well as I do that surface level symptomatic sin often hides deeper heart pain. I find myself more curious than ever these days, hoping to better understand the plight of those whose stories are unfamiliar to me. I’m more concerned about the log in my own eye personally, and corporately…as white men and women. What might we be missing here? Thanks for writing. Best.

      1. Dr. Chuck, I like you and I will probably never meet you. I like that you said it was a personal piece. For that, please accept my small apology. I myself start writing sometimes and my hearts desire to know and want to love someone is basic at first. I don’t know if you can relate but sometimes I write and people take the first thing I say and blow it up. Which is what I did to your piece. So I am sorry.
        If we are alike then you know what hurt is and you know how love feels – whether received or given.
        This is the first time I have ever blogged about anything, so thank you for rousing my spirit to fight the fight! God bless us all. Happy Thanksgiving!

      2. Dr. Chuck,

        Since we are aiming to make Ferguson a “gospel issue,” I think we are missing the inextricable centrality of apostolic sending—missional preaching. While expressing a listening heart is commendable, God further and confidently employs broken people to speak to other broken (and even worse completely un-relatable, sometimes altogether unreached) people. Go and tell this good message—Christ’s advent in the incarnation broke down all barriers and crossed every conceivable divide between God and man, along with the cross by His blood for Jew and Gentile! Today’s tensions of black and white have answers that can be handled and met together in Christ, but there must be “servant” preaching.

        Like Aaron, I appreciate that you clarified this was a personal piece—may we deal with the log in our own eye. But I’m asking we add shrewdness in place of that sense of disqualification (for the hearer’s sake), as the gospel is not a segregated message, only effectual from black to black.

        Thanks for hearing my thoughts. Grace and joy to you,

  10. Reblogged this on Wonders and Wanders and commented:
    I’ve been thinking and feeling a lot about Ferguson, but unsure of how to put it into words and even more unsure of whether or not those words would be worthy of sharing. I think it’s okay to say we aren’t sure how we feel, that we’re still figuring it out, that we don’t understand. But it’s not okay for us to not seek truth and justice in Jesus’ name. I think this is a great first step to that. An acknowledgement that Ferguson is a Gospel issue, and that making that connection enables us to move forward with the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

    Whatever your feelings on the indictment, the shooting, or the protests, please read this post from top to bottom, and pray for peace, justice, and change for Ferguson, a city God loves.

  11. Dear Americans,

    Please give up the guns, destroy them, throw them away, you’re no longer cowboys in the wild west. As a distant observer from London, what if the policeman had not had a gun. Your law enforcement is an all to real reflection of the suspicion and paranoia that doesn’t have to

    Those weapons kill people at a distance, those other people, those different (criminal) people are kept at a distance.

    Why or why keep the guns, it is like you think you are in some kind of film or tv drama.

    What if Darren Wilson had to wrestle Michael Brown to the ground and look him in the eye, it is far harder to kill him then.
    The gun gives distance, there is no sweat, no heart beat, no eyes to look into. In short it is harder to kill with your own hand.

    Oh on race, you thought you had made it when your President happens to be mixed race and is basically a light brown, I am darker than him when I get back from holiday!

    We’re far from sorted in London, and all too sadly, but we do have less guns.

    ‘Why you fighting against each other
    Why can’t we live like brothers, same breathe blow throw our nostrels’
    Exco Levi-

    With love from London,

    Tom

  12. Dr. Degroat;

    Thank you for your powerful words. As Christians, we fall prey into the plan of the wicked by taking sides on the issues involving secular injustices. Is it not ironic how many of these issues run almost concurrent with one another in order to further the widening divide of race among society especially in the Christian church. Many Christians would feel highly incensed by the devastation on the streets of Ferguson and apathetic to the bigotry or sense of entitlement in their own hearts and minds.

  13. So you think Jesus will bring Isaiah’s justice, but he won’t take sides. That would be interesting… A judge who won’t judge.

  14. Pingback: A Night in Jail

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