We Don't Have To Choose Sides
Saturday, July 9, 2016
Written by: Charles Morris
All in one week.
Alton Sterling, a young black man, shot dead by the police. Philando Castile, a young black man, shot dead by the police. And then in Dallas, five police officers shot dead by a young black man.
As a secular journalist now turned radio preacher I struggle with how to respond to these events in light of the gospel. In 2014, I went on the radio to report a similar event in Ferguson, MO. I thought I had fairly covered both sides of the story but then I received this response from a listener:
I pray that you white men would step out of your whiteness just long enough to let your Christian heart be the filter for your comments. Invariably, you seem to assume that the white version is the right and CHRISTIAN version of a situation. How long?
When I read this I was brought to my knees. Lord, could I possibly be a racist? I don’t know if I’m a “racist” but I know I have blind spots. As a believer I need to understand what life is like for someone like Mila Edmondson:
My wife has to beg me (a grown 37-year-old-man) not to go out to Walmart at night, not because she’s afraid of the criminal element, but because she’s afraid of the police element. Because she knows that when the police see me they aren’t going to see ... (the) pastor of New City Fellowship Presbyterian church. When they see me, they aren’t going to see Mika Edmondson, PhD in systematic theology. When they see me, what they’re going to see is a black man out late at night. She knows we’re getting stopped at 10 times the rate of everybody else, arrested at 26 times the rate of everybody else, and killed at 5 times the rate of everybody else.
Reading this reminded me again that I have blind spots. I live in a different world than Mika Edmondson and I was deeply grieved for those who live in this reality every day and for my country where such injustice exists.
But it doesn’t mean I have to take sides.
I equally grieve for the police officer who takes on his difficult job every day and puts his life on the line to protect others. I can weep for the five officers who were there to protect the protestors in Dallas and were shot down in the line of duty.
I have sympathy and respect for African American Dallas police chief David Brown, who has dealt with his own personal loss. Six years ago, his own son killed a police officer before being fatally shot himself.
We don’t have to take sides because it’s the taking of sides, the divides, the hostility, the us-against-them that’s destroying our world.
We can weep with all those who weep and mourn with all those who mourn and then pray against the enemy of us all -- not as last resort, but as the only hope for the world we live in. Only the Lord can wipe away our tears and reconcile us to each other. Every day the headlines prove we can’t do it ourselves. We are defeated again and again.
Only Jesus can heal our deep divides.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
As the leader of the Haven Ministries, Charles Morris is always thinking of ways to lead Christians and non-Christians to Christ—hence the familiar slogan, “Telling the great story … it’s all about Jesus.” Charles is a former secular journalist, who has worked for United Press International, and as a press secretary for two former U.S. senators. He began working in the Christian world after seminary, becoming the fourth speaker of Haven in 2000. He and his wife, Janet, have written several books, including Missing Jesus.