(This
morning one of my former students posted a question on my Facebook wall.
 I normally answer these kinds of questions with a personal email, but
felt this one was important to answer publicly because the response of the
church to these culturally charged incidents will echo for many years to come.)

The
question: 

In
the midst of so many people expressing their thoughts, frustrations,
agreements, disagreements, and so on, about the Ferguson case, I keep asking
God what His heart is. With that in mind, I thought of checking your Facebook
to see what you thought, but you haven’t posted anything, understandably. But I
am curious about what you feel through it all. You don’t have to respond, but I
wanted you to know that I have valued the many things that you have spoken to
me and others. I appreciate you and your authentic leadership.

My
answer:

Hello
Jonathan, thanks for asking this challenging question. Just this morning I was
processing the situation in Ferguson. The Lord shared with me a single word,
“Compartments”. There are multiple compartments in this situation and
each carries its own set of facts and history.

The
young man who was killed had the compartment of his own thinking the day of his
death. The police officer had a personal compartment inside his police car when
this incident began to tragically unfold. The history of the city of Ferguson
and the history of race relations in America each had a compartment in this
event, yet all parties were forced to live and work together in the middle of
such diversity. All of these are individual compartments and each has their own
set of facts. Each one is important if we are to understand the larger picture.
The only way I can process this is to enter each of these compartments and try
to understand from the other person’s perspective.

Yesterday,
I felt I would weep if I met a black person in Medford and entered their
compartment of life. If I met a policeman, I would want to enter his
compartment of life and thank him for the tough job they have. We will never
fully know all the facts. Many will use this situation for their own agenda on
both sides of the issue. This is where we need wisdom.

There
can be a sad morphing of this situation to become the platform for blind rage
on both sides of the situation. Both extremes can appear like lynch mobs. Jesus
knelt down and wrote in the dirt asking the sinless ones to cast the first
stone in a similarly charged situation 2,000 years ago. I want that kind of
wisdom in this situation – a wisdom that knows all the facts, but interprets
them at a heart level, not at an event and bare evidence level.

In
the early 90’s, our family lived in Los Angeles when the riots broke out during
the Rodney King trial. I was asked to appear on a local radio station with
community leaders, some who were black. The tensions were very high. One young
black leader said so wisely, “When we pursue our own version of justice it
is ‘just us'”. I never forget that. I want to pursue His justice regarding
Ferguson. I have noticed that Jesus’ form of justice was always forgiveness and
restoration and that is what we need in our nation today.

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