Thousands have chimed in on the current affairs of our time giving their opinions and perspectives on what this means and by what means we can move beyond this moment. These sentiments have come from across the world from different ethnic groups and classes with some supporting each party and its respective viewpoint. As I watched the world react on television, read others’ opinions on Facebook and Twitter, and even engaged in conversation with friends, I felt it was imperative that I give a pastoral, biblical, and theological perspective on these current events.
I must admit that the past does bear on my perspective. I speak as a son of a people who has suffered much pain from systematic oppression. I acknowledge there are some who may disagree with my insights and fail to understand my viewpoint. They would even suggest that there is no inequity in the administering of laws in this nation. They would rather ignore the truth than face reality. Consequently, I suggest that anyone who doesn’t empathize with the unfolding events in Ferguson has been sheltered by privilege and/or has never felt the chilling effects from the winds of discrimination.
Yet, I am an ambassador of reconciliation, speaking for the King of kings; therefore, I offer these thoughts for your consideration and contemplation. As I pondered and prayed about this situation, I recognized that there were two biblical cries that have been echoed throughout this week. There has been a cry for justice and a cry for order. These are both biblical cries that the body of Christ should support with passion in light of the teachings of scripture.
We should cry for justice as Amos did in Amos 5:24, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” When a life is so devalued that one can be shot down in the middle of the street with his body lying uncovered for hours as if he were 3/5 of a man, we should say, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” When the system protects the impulsive, irrational reactions of those who are charged to protect us from such actions, we should say, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” When we are more sensitive to the loss of property than to the loss of life and those who are pro-life act as if the loss of this life is no reason for strife, we should cry, “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream!”
Yet, there is another cry, a cry for order. As believers we cannot uphold the destruction of property, unnecessary violence, and other senseless acts. We must cry out for justice without undermining the rule of law. Although one may feel the pain caused by the findings of the grand jury, one must channel their emotions so that his or her actions are constructive, not destructive. The Bible teaches that all things should be done decent and in order. Furthermore, as believers we must heed to the admonishment of the scripture to obey the law and submit to governing authorities. While the pain is real and the anger is understandable, we are reminded to be angry but sin not. Martin Luther King said, “Rioting is the language of the unheard.” While this is true, we must acknowledge that looting, vandalism and violence are wrong and cannot be upheld under any circumstance. The higher ground must always be sought even when you are the offended in the situation.
There is a cry for justice and a cry for order. Both cries are needed in this hour as we navigate the chilling water of injustice and work toward ensuring that the setting unfolding in Ferguson does not become the setting of other cities in our nation. We must work to ensure that another life is not lost and the executor walks away guiltless. We must work to ensure that this moment produces change and awakens others to the fact that injustice anywhere is truly a threat to justice everywhere. We must work to engage in a productive conversation, which will yield the byproduct of progress as the cry of justice is heard and order is maintained.