Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Chest Hurts

I live in Ferguson Missouri.  I have never put out exactly where I live on here before, but now I feel it's very pertinent.  I have lived within Ferguson city limits for four years, I  shop in it's stores, eat in it's restaurants, visit it's Farmers Market and we play in it's parks.  Now, I am afraid to drive down certain streets, until peace returns.  A few of the stores I frequent have Missouri Highway Patrol standing guard at the doors to keep customers and employees safe.  My community is in crisis.

The whole country and parts of the world are watching Ferguson very closely.  Well, as close as you can through media.  I mean really, are you getting the whole truth from most media sources?  Absolutely not!  There is so much distortion of facts and flat out lies, we may never know what really happened.  God knows, but we may never know.

I am not writing a blog post to give my opinion on the officers innocence or guilt.  I don't know, so I have no opinion.  I am not writing to talk about Michael Brown's innocence or guilt.  I am not writing about right to protest or tear gas and rubber bullets.  I am however writing about how Christians should be responding to this crisis.

Do not mistake my words.  I have opinions, lots of them, on all of happenings (except innocence or guilt of the victim and officer involved) here, I just don't feel the need to share them.  When all this is said and done I may write another post addressing the outcome and then again, I may not.  Time will tell.  As of today, I write because my heart hurts.  My heart hurts for grieving parents, police and a community that is in danger, a community that is battered and a racial divide that effects us all.

The Christian mantras have long been, "we love everyone", "come as you are", "there are no colors in God's eyes" and yet we as Christians say those words, but I'm not sure we believe them.  I say that because at the first sign of an uprising of any kind from any race, some Christians make jokes, spew slanderous words about the race/culture as a whole and will begin to look at anyone from that race with fear and curiosity of what acts of violence that person has perpetrated.  That is NOT how we are to respond!

After 9/11 my uncle, who is Egyptian and his children, who are obviously bi-racial, went through terrible harassment and bullying.  My Uncle has never hurt or threatened anyone, but he was lumped into a group because of his color, his name, his religion and his culture.  

We as Christians get angry when people call us bigots.  We get all righteously indigent, or for some, unrighteously indigent and proclaim loudly that "we don't hate anyone, we just hate the sin."  You will hear this a lot when you bring up abortion or homosexuality.  There are some Christians who are bigots, {they are wrong, by-the-way} but we HATE to be lumped in together, as a whole, because most of us are not.  We also don't like it when we are placed in the same category as "those" zealots that will blow up abortion clinics and protest at fallen soldiers' funerals.  And yet, as much as we abhor being lumped into a one big bigotry or zealot whole, I hear and see Christians doing it all the time, placing everyone of a certain color or religion into one large group, as if the whole race perpetrated a crime against them.  If that is you, please stop calling yourself a Christian.  

Today, people of all different colors and religious beliefs will peacefully protest in Ferguson.  Last night some people who obviously didn't come for peaceful protests fired guns at police, threw various objects to cause injury at police and the law enforcement responded.  Were they all black people?  And yes, I said black people, not every black person is African American.  My husband isn't either, African or American, but is a black man.  I don't know the color, racial decent, or religion of everyone out there in the riot last night in my community.  Do you know who they are?  I do, they are humans and those that participate in unlawful events, they are still human, just now they are also criminals.  

As Christians, this is the creed we should live by, no matter who or what is happening:

Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:15-17 ESV)

It could be that you are afraid of anyone of Arab decent, maybe you despise homosexuals and turn away from them, maybe you have a thing against anyone who doesn't speak English, maybe you hate white people, maybe you have decided that blacks are stupid or you make crude jokes, feel hate toward the black community as a whole and have placed them all in the category of gang banging, drug selling/using, murderous, violent people; I would ask you to stop calling yourself a Christian, you make us all look bad.  

So how should we as Christians respond?  Love people enough to be praying.  I'm not talking about a quick before the meal "bless them", but a some serious time interceding for people.  A grieving mother and family, a policeman and his family in danger with their lives turned upside down (innocent or guilty that is a true statement), law enforcement trying to bring peace to a community, people who are hurt and need to be heard and those who haven't the self-control not to act violently.  Pray.  Love.  Do good.  Don't spread more hate and fear.  Be Christian, ya know, Christ-like.  

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to EVERYONE, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galations 6:10)


Cecelia Bonjour said...

I love this Valerie. It brought tears to my eyes. I do not consider my self a Christian, only a believer in spiritual Universal principles. but I do love this call for true forgiveness and consideration of our universal diversity. My heart breaks for the children, the 18 year old son and the little ones who want quiet in their streets. Bless you and if I may share on FB I shall.

Valerie said...

Thank you Cecelia. And of course you are welcome to share. It is truly heartbreaking.