Last night, Monday, November 24th, 2014, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced that the Grand Jury decided that there was not enough evidence to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown on August 9th earlier this year. Before Attorney McCulloch finished addressing the media, the streets of Ferguson and many other major cities erupted in protests. None matched Ferguson in the emotional violence and hostility that broke out between citizens and the local authorities.
Regardless of your opinion about Ferguson thus far, here are a few things we as followers of Jesus need to learn in order to be better citizens of God’s kingdom here on earth:
Racism is still alive in the United States.
The aftermath of the Grand Jury’s decision exposed the true colors of countless people. Reading Twitter feeds alone, anyone can see the racial barriers that still divide numerous communities in the States (there have been four million tweets using #Ferguson so far). Racial prejudice, privilege, ignorance and injustice are not simply nightmares of the past but are tragedies being painfully endured today. The reality of this characteristic of America cannot be swept under the wrong; it must be brought into the light, examined and thoroughly dealt with.
The justice system is once again in question.
We’ve been here before. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. O. J. Simpson. Rodney King. These cases like many others have been known to leak through the cracks and holes of our flawed justice system. Especially when race is a major component of a case, the integrity of the justice system seems to be questioned even more so. While our justice system is deemed more “fair” and “just” than other systems in the world, we must acknowledge that it is still a product of sinful humanity.
The integrity of authority lacks trust.
New York. Seattle. Oakland. Chicago. Los Angeles. Citizens of major cities flooded the streets to make known not only their questioning of the justice system but also of those in authority. Pastors and leaders among all followers of Jesus must recognize the call now more than ever to be above reproach. The manner in which we live in society will leave a legacy, good or bad, that will carry a tremendous weight of influence for generations to come. It is not our role or title that commands respect but instead the integrity of our character that graciously deems us worthy of respect.
Humanity craves justice.
News networks highlighted the crowds in Ferguson and throughout the U. S. raising signs that read, “No justice, no peace.” The world cries for justice. This desire has been embedded in our souls, the very core of who we are by God, Himself. Though the world may not realize it yet, we must show others that the longing for justice in our hearts is not a mere byproduct of evolution but an attribute of God Whose image we were made in.
America is not Heaven.
President Lincoln’s Civil War. Dr. King’s Civil Rights Movement. Our nation has had many pivotal moments indicating progress in racial equality. And yet here we are still far from equal.
No, we cannot expect perfection until the return of Jesus. However, we can be ambassadors and expanders of God’s kingdom, tools and instruments in bringing Heaven here on earth as Jesus taught us to pray for (Matt 6:10). Our “God of justice” (Is 30:18) wants “to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living” (Amos 5:24, NLT). We must not lose sight of the eternal kingdom that God has been and is currently establishing here on earth through His church in and throughout the world.
For more resources on racism and social justice, check out Timothy Keller’s Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just and John Piper’s Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian. Also, check out John Piper’s documentary Bloodlines.