Haven’t We Learned? (A Call To Action)

Nobody is perfect. People make mistakes. Sometimes innocent people are killed. This is the unfortunate reality of living in a world where injustice and violence exists. But what has been taking place across the United States over the past couple of weeks- the ongoing killing of young African American men by police officers- is utterly unjustifiable occurrence to be taking place in 2014 in America. Haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we seen similar actions in our nation’s short history? Haven’t we learned our lesson?

Apparently not.

There problem of racism in our nation still exists. It’s still alive and well. Whether it is the systemic oppression of minorities by the unseen structures that govern our society or the blatant cases of racial profiling of young black men that we have continually seen especially over the last few years. As my friend Benjamin L. Corey mentioned on his blog today, until all Americans or at very least, all followers of Jesus, begin to get outraged at this horrendous trend of injustice, then we cannot expect any change to occur.

Until we begin to walk in the way of our Lord who continually called out the oppressive powers of his day and taught his disciples to live in a radically subversive way that caused the government of Rome to shake at its knees, fearing that this small band of Jewish peasants might actually cause an uprising against the government, then lives like Michael Brown’s will continued to be lost by the senseless, racially charged violence by those in power. We are not called to return the violence for violence, but demand peace and justice from those who have been appointed by God to govern rightly.

Until we begin to truly believe in the full humanity and dignity of the “the other”- whether our racial, religious, gender, or those who we consider our enemies- we will continue to perpetuate inequality and injustice that will continually result in death, unrest, and hostility among communities across our country. Until those of us who have been endowed with privilege because of our race, religion, gender, or sexuality begin to leverage our position and influence to create lasting change in our community and country and to speak truth to power, then we will be at least partially responsible for the continued infringement upon the dignity of minorities in our nation.

If the Scriptures teach us anything it is that God is near to the oppressed. Where was Jesus when Michael Brown was murdered by the police? He was standing next to him as the police officer violently took this young man’s life. Jesus stands with every man or woman in our world that is facing discrimination and inequality. Jesus knows what it’s like. He was born in the wrong part of town. He too was part of an oppressed race of people. He too faced inconceivable violence and injustice. We do not have a Lord who is unable to sympathize with Michael Brown. And it is that same Jesus who is also calling for those who bear his name to stand up in your own sphere of influence to end racism, injustice, and inequality. To speak the truth to our leaders. And to go and stand with and for those who are being marginalized in our community.

If we don’t start now, then I fear that the case of Michael Brown will be just one more number in the death toll of the systemic injustice in our nation. And we cannot allow for that to be the case. We cannot allow for any more loss of life.

May we, as a Church, join in prayer for Michael Brown’s family, the community in Fenton, and for all of those whose names we may never know who have been unjustly killed because of their God-given identity. But may our faith also move beyond mere prayer to action. For each of us, this will look different. But may we remain on alert and be bold enough to speak whenever we are confronted with the glaring injustice that permeates our society. May we become agents of love, reconciliation, and peace, not only in our words, but in our day to day lives. May we live sacrificially, like Jesus, setting aside our comfort and personal security to give voice to those who have been pressed to the margins because of who they are.

This is the way of the Kingdom. This is the way to bring lasting peace to our world.

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Amos 5:24 NIV

  • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

    The race problems we have are just another instance of a larger problem: tribalism. We constantly divide ourselves into groups and with those groups in which we invest the most, there is a great deal of loyalty. And where that loyalty trumps our commitment to principle and morals, we have tribalism. And as we travel throughout the world, we divide into tribes according to: race, national identity, political ideology, economic class, religion, and language to name a few.

    Yes, we will always belong to groups. However, when loyalty to our groups cause us to adopt the ethic of what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom, we embrace the same problematic attitudes and behavior that exists in racism.

    Also consider:

    http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2014/04/tribalism-is-killing-world-and-church.html

  • Frank6548

    There is no evidence yet that an injustice occurred.

  • MarcusRegulus

    Amen.

  • http://www.prophecysociety.org/ Dan Bruce

    It is possible that Michael Brown was gunned down without cause, an act of police racism, as some witnesses seem to indicate. It is also possible that Michael Brown acted in a way that the officer who shot him thought his own person was in danger. Brown had minutes before robbed a convenience store and manhandled its clerk (the store’s video shows the latter aggressive behavior beyond doubt), so it is not a stretch to say that Brown had a violent personality on that particular afternoon, and possibly thought he was about to be arrested for robbery. In addition, subsequent events in Ferguson have shown that there is an undercurrent of rebelliousness and lawlessness among some black youths that give added context to the incident, especially for police. The surest thing that can be said right now is that none of us really know what happened when Brown was killed, so all we can do is speculate and unjustly judge either Brown or the cop if we choose to do so without all the facts. It’s best to reserve judgment until the FBI, state, and local investigations are completed and then we can fill in all the blanks. What we do know for certain today is that the lawless events of the past week (the separate after-story only peripherally associated with Brown’s death) are unacceptable in an American city. There can be no excuse for the lawlessness (rioting, burning stores, throwing bottles, rocks, and Molotov cocktails, and firing guns at policemen) that has been documented on videotape. As Christians, judgment must be withheld about the Brown death if we want to be fair to everyone; however, condemnation of the subsequent violence must be loud and clear and unequivocal. As to when America will start to care about the deaths of black youths, it’s sad to say but that will probably start to change only when black leaders are as upset about black youths killing black youths as they are when a black youth is killed by a white cop. As someone who stuck my neck out to openly work to achieve civil rights for blacks in 1960s and 1970s Atlanta, it makes me sad to see young black males killed, whether by cops or one another, and even sadder to see lawless young black men in the streets trampling on the grave of MLK Jr., who showed the power of non-violence to achieve just goals.

  • Rhodara Shreve

    As more information has come out about what happened, I think Dan’s words are wise. Your writing was a disappointment in that it kinda sounded too much like media parroting for me. It doesn’t reflect a lot of depth in reflection so please, try to be a person that considers the times and refrain until clarity is visible in the best possible way before pontificating about something like this.

  • http://www.prophecysociety.org/ Dan Bruce

    Brandan, as more information has become available and as events have unfolded in Ferguson over the past week, have you changed any of the views expressed in your article above? In other words, have you learned anything new of value that can be shared, and, if so, what?


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