4 Thoughts on the Protests

by Bryant Evans on December 7, 2014

Grand Jury Decision Reached In Ferguson Shooting CaseSome events just bring out the worst in people. Such has been the recent events surrounding two deaths involving police officers. In both cases, officers were cleared of any criminal action but protesters were unhappy and took to the streets to protest their concerns. There is nothing wrong with protesting. It is an established and protected action in our nation. But not all the protesters displayed honorable conduct. Some were lawless. But in the process some revealed an ugly side to their character. Some showed themselves unashamed racists – on both sides – and brought ill repute to their communities. We should be reminded that race-based behaviors are sinful.

It is ironic that Peter is an example of racial misconduct. Peter was chosen by God to shatter the Israelite monopoly on favor with God and take the gospel message out of Judaism to the ill thought of Gentiles. In urging Peter’s compliance God warned him not to call anything common or unclean (). But afterwards, Peter separates himself from some Gentiles with whom he is sharing a meal, because some Jewish brethren arrived from Jerusalem. Paul sternly rebuked him (). Regardless of the irony, the event teaches that it is wrong to base our relationships upon race.

Racism is Real

It would be nice to believe that the years of racism are behind us. They are not. Organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panthers remind us of racial hatred. But there is also a level of racism that lurks just beneath the surface of polite society. This came screaming to the surface last week. Persons in both black and white communities surrendered to racial name calling and stereotyping. It’s wrong and it proves my point: racism is real.

Not Every Conflict is Racial

We should also remember that not every conflict between people of differing races is rooted in angry racism. Sometimes, trouble comes without any regard to the racial characteristics of those involved. We should remember that there are certain people who depend on conflict to earn their living. For them, it is important to foment discord in order to gain followers. Other respond, in opposition, by employing the same rhetoric redirected at their opponents. The cycle doesn’t stop.

Breaking Stereotypes

The Christian must be a stereotype-breaking person. By refusing to be drawn into discussions which even remotely suggest racism the Christian can surprise bystanders. Some black leaders rebuked the rioting and looting in Ferguson while some white leaders rebuked the Grand Jury decision in New York. These surprising voices shatter stereotypes and actually draw people closer to one another. In both Ferguson and New York there were critical issues requiring address. By moving beyond the racial concepts we might begin to correct the trouble.

Jesus

Jesus taught that we should love one another like ourselves (; ; ). He taught the good news to all ( ff; ). His apostle, Paul, taught us to view men as brethren (). Would Jesus have viewed the streets of Ferguson in anger and looted stores and called for chaos? Would he have watched the violence and concluded that is “just the way those people are?” Of course not.

As his disciples, let us be like him and resist the temptation to fall into racial attitudes, comments and conduct. Let us do better. Let us shatter stereotypes and show the world what it really means to love.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at preachersstudyblog.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.
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15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (ESV)

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (ESV)

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’

Matthew 5:44

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (ESV)

19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (ESV)

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (ESV)

And he had to pass through Samaria. (ESV)

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Matthew 28:19

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (ESV)

16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (ESV)

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