Two days ago the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, made known their final decision: no criminal indictment against the police officer involved in the shooting death of Michael Brown.
And the rioting began in earnest.
People on one side say that all the evidence was evaluated, the legal system has spoken, and that should be the end of it. People on the other side say it’s not about a single incident: it’s about centuries of oppression and pent-up anger, and violence is the only way to make their voices heard.
What would Jesus do if He were on Earth today, in Ferguson Missouri? Those on both sides of the conflict believe they would have Him on their side.
But I’m not sure that’s true. There were serious social issues in 1st century Judea and Galilee when Jesus was here. Violence, oppression, and exploitation (including rape) by the Romans was everywhere. The religious establishment was rife with greed, violence and oppression as well. Slavery was an every-day part of society. Women were mostly considered property. There was little opportunity for education or advancement for the common poor people.
And what did Jesus do? He went after people’s hearts.
So what would He do today in Ferguson, Missouri?
First, Jesus would cry. (See Luke 13:34)
- He would cry over the young people who only know a life of poverty and violence.
- He would cry over the authorities who act out of fear and misunderstanding.
- He would cry over social and religious leaders who encourage violence as a way to solve problems.
- He would cry over other leaders who allow a system to remain that many feel perpetuates inequality.
- He would cry over those who are vilified for simply trying to keep others safe.
- He would cry over broken families that leave each succeeding generation more adrift than the one before.
- He would cry over business owners who exploit workers and customers while becoming rich.
- He would cry over those who respond to mob mentality by acting out in violence, and reap the consequences.
- He would cry over those who experience discrimination through no fault of their own.
But He would not join sides. When approached about those who had died because of political violence or accidents Jesus responded, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish!” (Luke 13:1-5)
And then, Jesus would call to action.
But not violent protest where property is destroyed, and people are hurt. Not authoritarian tactics to force people to comply. Neither of those responses has any chance of changing people’s hearts.
And hearts is what Jesus is after.
Jesus would call all people to personal (and group) accountability. Each one will have to answer for themselves before God (Romans 14:12).
- He would call the young people to a life of productive work, service, and responsible relationships (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
- He would call on the governing authorities to rule with integrity and justice (Romans 13:4, 1 Timothy 2:1-2).
- He would call on religious leaders to teach spiritual maturity in matters of the heart (Matthew 23:23).
- He would call on business owners to live with integrity and to treat customers and employees with respect (1 Timothy 6:17-18).
- He would call on all who have things of value to be generous in wise ways (Luke 3:11).
- He would call on all who don’t have material goods to work hard and to be content (1 Timothy 6:7-8)
- He would call on parents to raise their children in the “fear of the Lord” so that future generations have a better chance (Ephesians 6:4).
- He would call on those experiencing persecution of any kind to respond with patience and hope (1 Peter 2:19-20).
God cries when any of His children is hurt.
And God calls each of us – rich, poor, young, old, every race and color – to a life where each heart is changed and each person makes a positive impact for His kingdom.
What is He calling YOU to do?
Your Turn: What do you think Jesus would do if He were in Ferguson, Missouri right about now?
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- If Jesus were in Ferguson, MO, He would first cry, and then call everyone to action. Tweet that.
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