Yesterday’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson—who shot and killed 18-year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August—serves as the latest flashpoint for heated racial tensions involving our criminal justice system. Whether one feels Officer Wilson’s action constituted “a crime” or not, the reality is that young black males are at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts. Consequently, a tremendous amount of our nation’s racial history and tension gets exposed in reactions to such shootings because, regardless of the reason, the rate that blacks are killed by police is startling when set against the rest of the American population. During these times of heightened racial frustration, it is critically important for the faith community to lift up a unified voice.
The Michael Brown case presents a unique challenge for racial harmony because the “no indictment” announcement was carried out in a way that highly frustrated many in the black community and went to great lengths to communicate that no crime was committed. As a result, many African Americans believe this case to be an attempt to “turn back the clock on race relations,” while many others see it as a successful demonstration of the effectiveness of the American justice system. So the question becomes, “How does the community of faith move forward in unity?”
First, we must draw inspiration from this situation. We must inspire our congregations to believe that God is still sovereign in spite of human brokenness. We must also inspire our people to believe that God, in His sovereignty, will ensure justice always prevails. Psalm 9:7-8 says, “But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” [Read more…]