If you have watched the news over the past week, I believe that the situation in Ferguson, MO is practically impossible to miss. Shoot, we don’t even own a TV, and it has been all over the Internet for days. My husband and I have read articles and opinions, seen photos, seen video clips, and personally our hearts were saddened by all of the events. Yesterday evening we spoke about whether or not it is proper for the church to say something about it, and he ended up explaining to me the prevalence of the “Two Kingdoms” theology, which in turn causes most pastors to never say a word on things while they assume their members support proper causes.
Well, as I told my husband last night, I have no desire to see our church unfocused on our true mission. As a Black woman in a predominantly White, southern, Presbyterian church, I have no desire to disrupt the fellowship and unity that I do have with my fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. But as a Black woman who attends a Presbyterian church because we couldn’t find any doctrinally sound Black churches, I do feel the need that somebody needs to say something or should say something rather.
I get that I’m not important. I mean, I’m just a housewife, and I’m not the fashionable, upper-class kind you find on TV. I’m pretty sure no one cares about my opinion on this situation, but this blog is the only way I can do something right now. And I know I have to do, to say, something.
Why my heart is broken….
My heart is broken over the entire situation for several reasons:
- Another young Black man was killed, and that is heartbreaking.
- A family is suddenly without their loved one, and they have to grieve over that while asking questions all at the same time…..that’s really hard.
- A police officer, who probably felt that he did everything he could, is now in hiding probably fearful for his own life and not finding a lot of support……and that’s really hard too.
- A community that wanted answers about the situation didn’t receive answers for days, and that is really frustrating when you know someone is holding out on you and possibly attempting to cover things up.
- Some people from the community and outsiders decided to start unlawfully looting during the protests and turned everything into a more violent situation…..and it is always heartbreaking when Black communities succumb to pointless acts of violence.
Those are all facts from the situation, and I thought those facts alone would break anyone’s heart who has read or heard of the situation. Yet, it’s apparent that a lot of people feel like they can’t “relate” to it, so they don’t say anything at all. And to that, I feel like that’s a cop out. I know we get personally and emotionally invested in all sorts of things that we are not personally associated with, and we do that because it moved our heart. From speaking out against abortion to finding ways to support persecuted Christians throughout the world, we often feel like we “must” do or say something. Yet, we often ignore really obvious things that are actually close to us.
I definitely don’t want to come off as being self-righteous here because there are plenty of things that I have intentionally chosen not to get involved in over the years, and in hindsight, I should not have done that. So I’m trying. I’m using the avenues that I have (mainly this blog and conversations with people). I’m not ignoring it this time. But as I pondered everything last night while falling asleep, I was reminded of a mindset that I had years ago that God had to address with me.
Theology is not just for Church
The mindset I had was that theology is for my spiritual life alone. What I thought about God and knowing His will and His plans for things, that was for my personal walk. I mean, I would certainly pray about taking a job or not and pray about guidance for my life decisions, but that was mainly it. When it came to Black issues or problems in the Black community, I had to approach that completely different because theology wouldn’t help that. Those issues need something else…..Black intellectual minds coming together, education of the people, better community planning, more jobs……something else.
God challenged me on that years ago. And slowly I’ve learned that Theology does matter. Theology (or what you know and believe about God) shapes your entire view of the world and your view of situations that happen in the world. As Christians, it’s generally easy to associate abortion with murder and bring up the sanctity of human life because you’ve read it from the Bible and preached numerous times. When people are sick or dying we hear about the lack of pain and suffering that will be completely glorious in eternity, and we have our faith and hope stirred up again as we await the resurrection of our bodies. We evangelize because we want everyone possible to be saved from the wrath that will come when our Lord Jesus Christ returns……..all of these things we can read and hear on a Sunday morning. But we don’t tend to highlight sermons about God’s justice in the light of the numerous injustices that have taken place throughout our society over the years.
Why don’t we talk about the importance of true justice in the eyes of God? Why don’t we talk about what the Bible says about nations who pervert justice? Why don’t we talk about what God has to say about the oppressed, weak, and afflicted? Why aren’t we able to empathize with the plights of others who may be racially different than us? Why don’t we encourage others who are different than us more readily with truth from the Word of God?
The final reason why my heart is broken is because I know that theology matters, and it matters in this situation with Ferguson, MO. I know that not having proper doctrine and theology systematically taught has really negatively impacted the Black church, as well as others. I know that people in Ferguson reacted the way they felt was best at the time, but their view of the situation, their view on whether or not God cares or sees what has happened and if God will truly right all of the wrongs in this world when He comes probably hasn’t been discussed at large. And this is where I think the Church can come in.
We can encourage pastors of every denomination to talk about how theology affects your worldview. We can talk about how and why we respond differently to situations as believers in Christ. We can be more empathetic with the difficulties that our sisters and brothers of a different color experience and encourage them with the hope of the Word of God. We may not be able to change the situation, but we can comfort and remind them that God has a plan and a purpose for everything that is and has happened. We can also call for more accountability and transparency in our justice system and law enforcement, and we can speak up about the imbalances we do see.
Finally, but most importantly, we can pray, sincerely pray. We can pray for those who have rule over us, that they would rule and govern in such a way that we can ALL live peaceable lives, not just our own life or the lives of our loved ones. We can pray for communities like Ferguson that are experiencing unrest. We can pray for our brothers and sisters in the faith that happen to be Black that they continue to hold fast to the truth of God’s Word above all, and that they have a positive and God-honoring influence in their communities. We can pray that God would also use us (no matter the color of our skin) to have the uncomfortable conversations and to say the things that should be said so that we don’t look away when people are crying out for justice and for answers. And we can pray that God intervenes, righting the wrongs and enlightening the hearts and minds of those involved, and that He accomplishes all of His purposes through these difficult times. Basically, we can do something, and we should do something.
So, that’s it for my two cent commentary this morning. I’m off to finish my housewife duties, but if you get a chance, I do hope that you will consider the things that I’ve said. You can also check out some great articles on an appropriate Christian response and perspective on the situation in Ferguson, MO from Al Mohler and several articles from Thabiti Anyabwile posted on The Gospel Coaliton.