So here we are, almost exactly 5 months past the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, and there is social unrest in the streets of Baltimore. Unfortunately, lesson have still not been learned, and another unarmed black man is dead at the hands of police. I wrote a piece called, Not Like This, back on December 1, 2014, and this message is yet relevant today. So here it is again with a few names and details changed, because this is the same problem on a different day …
Everyone can justify their own feelings. Everyone has an opinion about
Ferguson, Baltimore. Many opinions are steeped in an emotional rationale and regardless of where you stand on the issue, there is someone who will argue passionately with you about it. Emotionally charged debates rarely end well, mostly because everyone can’t articulate their feelings. I’m sure Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, would feel justified in his actions, feeling unfairly reprimanded and detained by the police. I’m certain the arresting officers feel justified in their actions. I’m sure every looter and protester feels justified in their actions, feeling like social unrest is the proper retribution for this unfortunate death. I’m sure every bystander, watching in judgement, feels justified in their disdain.
However, dare I say, most of us have dropped the ball. Whether it was out of apathy or rage, most of us have mishandled this opportunity to resolve (or at least discuss) real issues in this country.
This puts me in mind a story found near the end of the book of Judges. Chapter 19 tells a story of a concubine who runs away from her master. After a period of a few months, her master tracks her down and she agrees to come back to him. On their way back home, they have to stop in a city called Gibeah, because night was coming and it wasn’t going to be safe to travel. They are taken in by an old man, who happened to be from the same province, and are shown great hospitality. However, the men of the city charged the old man’s door demanding that he send out the men at the house (that they may have relations with them, verse 22). The old man, determined to protect his guest, forces the concubine out in the street, where she is raped and abused all night long. At the breaking of day, she stumbles to the threshold of the house and drops dead there. Her master, picks her lifeless body, mounts her to his animal and takes her home. Once he is there, he takes a knife and dismembers her body into twelve pieces and sends her remains to the twelve tribes of Israel. He does this in response to the total depravity that had engulfed the nation. Judges 21:25 says everyone did “what was right in his own eyes.”
You see the nation of Israel had neglected the leading of God. They had turned their backs on the God who had delivered them from oppression, and chaos ensued. While his point and intention was all well and good, but the way he went about expressing it did more damage than good. His expression was far more gruesome than the offense.
I believe we are in the same predicament. Yes, there are problems with racism and police brutality, but mutual distrust will not solve them. Not like this. Yes, people are frustrated with the seeming lack of justice for minorities in this country, but violence isn’t the way to fix it. Not like this. Yes, something should be done about the people looting and causing the violence we see on the news, but shooting to kill at will is not the answer. Not like this.
At the end of the day, this is an opportunity for each of us to search ourselves. This a chance for us all to examine our hearts individually, and figure out ways that each of us can make a small difference where we are. These are moments, in which we can learn from each other and see things from another perspective. This is the time to demonstrate the love of Christ, because no matter how you have positioned yourself on this issue, we all must align ourselves with the cross. Otherwise, we wont make it. Not like this.
(from a message shared at The Kingdom Church Sunday November 30, 2014)
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