I have been watching the news and paying close attention to news reports and social media chatter since the announcement of the decision not to prosecute the officer involved in the shooting of Michael Brown sparked violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere.
Although there is much that is cloudy and chaotic in trying to interpret these kinds of violent tragedies, one thing seems fairly clear. As Robert Jones points out in an article in The Atlantic, the responses to the events in Ferguson fall across lines of race http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/self-segregation-why-its-hard-for-whites-to-understand-ferguson/378928/
I was praying early this morning about what my response, as a white evangelical Christian leader should be. My sense from the Spirit was that what is needed most - at least in the immediate - from most white Christians is not so much our mouth as our ears.
The segregation of the church in America has always been a source of sadness for me - and I am sure even more so for Jesus. I understand the history and the reasons why we are divided, but I am still a prisoner of hope that even this side of the eternal kingdom the Body of Christ can find ways of reflecting the unity in diversity that ought to be a primary mark of the Church and a witness to the new creation.
What I love about the Pentecost narrative in Acts 2 is that the multiple languages present in Jerusalem on that day were not eradicated but, by the power of the Spirit, the diverse people present that day understood each other and were baptized into one new and holy nation.
As I often like to point out to people, the real miracle of Pentecost is not that people spoke differently but that people heard differently. Peter preached a sermon and each heard it in their own language. The hope of Pentecost is that God's new creation people would hear and understand one another.
And so my encouragement to the Church this morning is that, especially where the racial issues surrounding Ferguson are involved, believers should be "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger" (James 1:9).
This is not a call for Anglo church leadership to stay silent or fail to stand with our brothers and sisters of color in the Body of Christ. But my own sense today is that before I start talking I need to try and listen well to the sufferings, the fears, and the experiences of those in the Body whose experiences are so different than my own.