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The Turmoil in Ferguson, MO

posted Aug 19, 2014, 10:10 AM by First Baptist


Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that “the ancestor of every action is a thought.” I believe he’s absolutely right. We are what we think. This makes it imperative that we think well and think like a Christian should think. Some refer to this as “thinking Christianly.”


As Christians, how should we think about the turmoil in Ferguson?


I believe a first step is to be aware of how our respective backgrounds shape our thinking.


Most white people are taught to respect the police. As a white person, every encounter I’ve ever had with a police officer has been positive insofar as the officer was professional and respectful. The morning our son died, the Wichita police department sent a specially-trained officer to talk to us and stay with us until family arrived. When our home was burglarized, the police were responsive and diligent. I did a “ride along” with a young police officer in my church and I saw firsthand how difficult and dangerous his job was. He literally put his life on the line every night.


Probably due to this type of background, I suspect most white people immediately assumed the shooting of the young man in Ferguson was justifiable, even when it was initially reported that he was shot in the back and/or was surrendering. White people also expect that “the truth” will eventually come out and if it’s proven the officer acted unlawfully, he will be punished.


It’s possible the African-American community in Ferguson has had a different experience with police. Perhaps they’ve been hassled by police and treated disrespectfully. Perhaps the police in Ferguson are poorly trained and don’t seem to care. (In my opinion, the city’s police chief hasn’t come across well.) Worst of all, perhaps the community has witnessed actual police misconduct and their complaints have been ignored by those in authority.


Probably due to THEIR background, the African-American community appears to assume that the young man was “murdered” in cold blood and the officer is going to get away with it. Their expectation is that this will turn out to be another injustice in a long line of them. They don’t trust the criminal justice system at any level because it’s assumed to be “rigged” in favor of the wealthy and powerful (i.e., in favor of white people).


So, who’s right?


Both sides are . . . in the sense that the different experiences are real and the assumptions/expectations that grow out of them are not unreasonable.


The point is this: While our experiences can and should INFORM us, we can’t let them DICTATE how we think and act. The Bible calls for a “renewing” of our minds. The full text is this:


Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)


We’re given a NEW mind when we accept Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. And then, with our new mind, we immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, which reveal God’s will to us.


As we’re immersing ourselves in the Scriptures, the indwelling Holy Spirit illuminates our thinking, enabling us to not only understand what the Scripture says, but also how it applies to our lives and to the situations around us.


Thus, my question to you is this: How does “a renewed mind” think about the situation in Ferguson?


Pastor Dan