Ferguson, Race, and God's Work in My Heart

Steve Sellers

The Ferguson grand jury returned their verdict Monday night.

The events surrounding this tragedy have caused me to examine the condition of our country and the condition of my own heart. As I listen to various news channels report on the story, I am struck by how deep the divide is in our country over the issue of race. One news station features how justice was served through a fair process while another station is outraged over the pattern of injustice being lived out yet again before our eyes.

A fracture of trust exists in our country between the white majority and various ethnic minorities, especially African Americans. This lack of trust has been generations in the making. It is not easily healed.

For some of you, the events this week have reopened a deep wound. For others this has barely been noticed as you head into the holidays. For those of you in this second category, let me encourage you to pause and consider that when one part of our body is in pain, other parts have the opportunity to care and come alongside.

The issue here is ultimately a spiritual one. As a follower of Jesus I recognize that I am sinful and that I am a beneficiary of the greatest injustice of all time, Jesus being crucified. As a recipient of His grace I want to be a channel of His grace to others and yet at times I still fall prey to my own biases, my own self-centeredness, and the lenses through which I see life. All of this makes me prone to trying to defend my viewpoint, my experience, and my upbringing instead of recognizing the condition of my heart and owning the role I play for good or evil in the rebuilding of trust.

I continue to come to grips with the biases I’ve formed over the years. I hear tapes from my past like, “Anyone can get ahead if they work hard”, “Slavery ended long ago, people need to get over it.”

I want to face my biases head on. I want to take the time to listen and understand the experiences and pain of my brothers and sisters. I want to pray for the lack of unity in the body and work to mend that fracture.

Unity does not come easily or cheaply. It requires hard work, time and selflessness. It asks us to consider others as more important than ourselves and to be willing to be uncomfortable as we work through years of hurt. Make no mistake, this is a spiritual battle that the evil one will not give up easily.

There is hope. We know that He who is in us is greater than He who is in the world. We know that forgiveness is real. We have experienced it and we have power to extend it. We know that reconciliation is possible as we move toward one another and allow the Holy Spirit to do a deep work in our hearts.

As I sit around my Thanksgiving table this week I am grateful for the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice for each of us. I’m also grateful for the privilege of serving Christ with you. I am asking him to do a deep work in our lives to produce understanding and empathy for one another.

The gospel is powerful not only for salvation, but also for meaningful change in our world. May we all be full of grace and truth as we strive with one another for the sake of the gospel.

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