The Way Forward, pt. 1

The Way Forward, pt. 1 February 2, 2015

Two months ago in thiscolumn, I said I wanted to write something about Ferguson. Typically, I process informationpretty quickly, formulate my own response, and let it rip. But this one took mea while, for several reasons.

For one, I’ve been blessed to have close friends on both sides of thestory, and I needed some time to listen well. (By the way, I hope you do, too.I sincerely hope you have both “Fox News friends” and “MSNBC friends.” Afterall, the gospel brings together Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male andfemale, right?)

For another, the issues involved here are way bigger than the specificdetails of Ferguson,which I’ve learned is something that people like me in the majority cultureoften overlook. Whites tend to view each incident like this through a zoomlens, obsessing over the details of each specific incident. Minorities, on theother hand, tend to look at these situations through a wide-angle lens, whichreveals the larger context. From their panoramic perspective, these incidentsform a pattern with a long and complex history. The particular questions of“Who’s right and who’s wrong?,” along with most of the other details, getsubmerged in the vast ocean of their ethnic narrative.

In the next few weeks, I intend to work out something of a way forwardfor myself and for our church—specifically, a way of thinking about racialreconciliation and some practical suggestions for how to do it. First though,why should we care? After all, Parker is a pretty homogenous community. Andbesides, probably none of us in this church would say we have a problem withracial prejudice. So why should we concern ourselves with racial reconciliation?

First, these are American issues, not just private personal ones. America has arace problem. Americans all should care about that.

Second, these are human life and death issues, not just political andsociological ones. Even if you believe Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and EricGarner all reaped what they sowed, your heart should still break over the deathof a fellow human being. Even suicide—which, by definition, is self-inflicteddeath—warrants grief. If there’s a way to avoid someone’s life coming to apremature end, all people should care about that.

Third, these are gospel issues, not just secular ones. The gospelclaims to redefine our family, our priorities, our outlook, and our values. Ifa brother or sister is suffering for any reason, all Jesus’ followersshould care about that.