Sober Minds Needed

No, this isn’t a blog about alcohol but it is about sobriety of thought and emotions. How we need clear heads if we are to tackle the racial issues facing our country. I remember as a boy in the sixties watching the TV, seeing all the rioting and hearing the reporters talk about the violence and mayhem. It affected me and I couldn’t understand why these things were happening at such a young age.

The events of the past year have caused/exposed deep racial divides and brought all that back. However, this time around I am not young and even though I realize there are no easy or short-term solutions to this, there are answers.

I pastor a young multi-racial congregation and would not have it any other way. It’s been my heart from the beginning because multi-racial most exemplifies the kingdom of God upon the earth today. We are one not because of skin color but because of one blood and one Spirit that binds us together in Christ Jesus. Because I have a multi-racial congregation of brothers and sisters, I have been able to talk honestly with them on a personal level. It’s brought great understanding. Genuine, open communication has a way of imparting that.

Here is what I have come to realize. We all have two natural filters we tend to use when facing any situation…

The first is our cultural roots.

I was born a white southern boy. I can’t help that so don’t hold it against me. ☺ Thankfully I never heard one racist remark in my home as a child. Because of that prejudice was never really in my heart or mind. BUT, I grew up white with no understanding of what it meant to be black, brown, or red skinned in this country. For years I looked through white southern eyes and couldn’t understand what the problems were.

Part of the solution in the natural is to put ourselves in another’s skin and look through their cultural roots. If you will do it honestly, you won’t be so quick to judge or tell people to just get over it. When I choose to honestly look through the eyes of a black, red, or brown skinned man, my perspective changes and hopefully the way I perceive the issues before me. I’m not trying to prove right or wrong here, just that perspective has much to do with the way we approach things.

The second filter is our past experience.

So you had a past issue with a particular person of another race? What right does that give you to judge every other person of the same race based upon your experience? We have no right whatsoever to pin a label on an entire people group based upon the actions of a few bad apples. That goes for not just skin color, but political leanings, Christian leaders and yes even for police officers.

For the record, I have personally known six police officers. One is my uncle and my daughter works in a campus police department. The overwhelming majority of police officers I personally know are great men and women doing their best to serve their communities. But there are some bad apples. Like the young State Trooper who gleefully gave me a ticket for my registration being 10 days late and then pulled out around me as he left wide open, no lights on, and narrowly missing my back bumper in the process. Or, was he just doing his job?

In all honesty I have questions about the way things were handled in Ferguson and refuse to form a solid opinion either way because of them. But it is obvious to me that something is wrong when a man dies on the street for selling cigarettes because of an illegal choke hold while saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”. There is something chilling about a 12-year-old with a toy gun who police officers pull up on the scene and in three seconds shoot him dead regardless of whether or not they thought the gun was real. It reminds me of a boy who died because of a bag of Skittles he had bought and took the short way home.

We need sober minds.
1 Peter 5:8 (LEB) 8 Be sober; be on the alert. Your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

To be sober-minded means to think clearly and reasonably. We must not be drunk on our personal cultural or experiences. We must not be drugged by prejudices, anger, bitterness, or hatred towards another as we approach the individual situations. When we approach situations ‘drunk’ on these things, the devil has a hay day and nothing good is about to happen.

All lives matter whether they are black, red, brown, or white; in uniform or out of uniform.

There is a higher way. It’s the way of the Kingdom of God where neither race or gender matter before the Lord. We are all equal in His sight, all children of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. I for one refuse to move from a position of equality for all. I for one refuse to look at a person through the eyes of skin color. You are either already my brother or sister in Christ, or could become one. Either way, I don’t want to do anything to separate us.

I pray you feel the same.

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