The Way Forward, pt. 2

The Way Forward, pt. 2 February 9, 2015

A Googlesearch on Friday morning revealed that Fergusonis still making the news. Here are some of this week’s headlines: “FergusonAuthorities Look to Identify, Prosecute Looters”; “Faith leaders gather todiscuss Fergusongoing forward”; “Ferguson Police Begin Testing ‘Less Lethal’ Gun Attachment.”Obviously, the Fergusonstory matters, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

No surprisethere. Ever since Old Uncle Sam was born in 1776, he’s been troubled by adisruptive, embarrassing nephew named “Race Relations.” Almost every family hassomebody like Race. They worry about him. They shake their heads at him. Theywhisper about him. They live in anxious tension over when he’ll get intotrouble again and disrupt the whole family. They hope he gets help. Secretly,many of them wish he’d just go away forever. For years, however, the people whoare closest to him—those most deeply affected by the problems with Race—havebeen begging the rest of the family not to ignore him.

Old Raceshowed up again in Fergusonlast year, and sadly he fell right into some of his old habits. And so did therest of the family. Some said it was completely his own fault, and he got whathe deserved. “You reap what you sow,” they said. (You might not be surprised tolearn that this part of the family really likes bumper stickers. In fact, theythink most of the world’s problems could be summed up—and solved!—in 140characters or less.)

Othermembers of the family said Race’s problems will never go away, as long as thesystem is so badly broken. “Race is a victim! He’ll never get ahead as long asThe Man keeps keeping him down.” Some of these folks totally lost their minds,went all Viking, and pillaged their neighbors or got themselves tossed in jailto show us how much they care.

Who isright? Neither. And both. The problems with Race are personalresponsibility issues. Sowing and reaping are involved. The gospel itselfreminds us that bad choices yield bad results, and we should warn each other:“THIS is why you don’t live like that.” But that’s not the only problem withRace. There are also systemic problems. Uncle Sam’s systems are all formed andrun by sinners. No system is perfectly just. As with most problems, the issueswith Race are a both-and problem, not an either-or.

Nextcolumn: a vision for where we as a church would like to see.