If you follow US news, you’ll be familiar with the happenings in Ferguson, Missouri, a normally sleepy suburb of St. Louis. It is there where a police officer shot a man following an apparent scuffle. Seems innocuous enough until you fill in some details. The shooting officer was white while the young man who was killed was black and apparently had his hands in the air while being shot.
Protests have been going on for the better part of two weeks which have been focused on the injustice done presumably because of the young man’s race. The protesting group, which is largely black, is outraged that the white police officer could get away with killing this young man. Racial tension has been the common theme when discussing the events that occurred in Ferguson, in large part because that is still a real issue in America (something Canadians can’t fully understand or appreciate). The focus on race is really a focus on the visible things that separate us. Each of us consciously or unconsciously focus on the things that unite and divide us. You more readily gather with like-minded people, you start a conversation with someone when you notice they have the same shirt as you, or you acknowledge that guy driving down the road in the same car that you have.
We find comfort in being surrounded by people who are like us, there is a built in sense of trust when you encounter someone who looks, thinks, talks or acts similar to you. Experience tells us this happens all the time, science supports this gathering of like things, and Scripture points to this as well. When we open the book of Genesis we see that once there was openness and commonality within human relationships which didn’t last long. Soon sin, which is a fancy word for separation, entered the scene and people became divided. Wars were fought between people groups and dividing lines were drawn around food, traditions, appearances, and the like. With sin came a division of people.
One place in Genesis where people were working together was the building of the Tower of Babel. In this instance, unity of the people was not to be celebrated because they were not working together to further their relationship with the One who mattered, God their Creator, but to make their own name great. As a result, God divided the people into different language groups so that they could no longer understand each other.
When we think about the issues of life that seem to be as simple (in actuality as complex) as the colour of our skin, or the different language we speak, we need to remember the deeper reason for the divide. It is a direct result of our disobedience, our deciding we want to live our own lives as we see fit apart from God. There is much more at play than (simply) race in the events unfolding in Ferguson. Ferguson is just a reminder of the bigger problem in our world, separation from God which leads to brokenness of relationship and separation from other humans. It would be nice if there was an easy way to fix the systemic brokenness in the world, to heal the hurts of our differences. Apart from Jesus and His coming again to re-create the world, everything else will just be a Band-Aid solution.
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Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.