Like others, I have been shocked and horrified by the events surrounding Ferguson this week. It is so sad to see such anger which boils all around us.
But one of my greatest concerns is that no seems to be truly listening. Many people are arguing, but no one appears to be actively attempting to understand the perspective on “the other side.”
Most people merely listen with the intent to refute rather than to understand.
Therein lies the problem.
James 1:19 says, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” (NKJV) Imagine how this approach could bring healing to our nation.
But it’s not “those people” who are the problem. It’s also the rest of us. How are we communicating our own perspectives through Facebook, Twitter, personal conversations, and other means? Are we seeking to understand, or are we only seeking to be understood?
On one side, many are infuriated that a white cop would kill a black man who was not carrying a weapon. On the other side, many are enraged that a police officer is being judged for shooting a man who was attacking him. But neither side really seems to be listening to what is really going on in the heads of those with whom they disagree.
I’m not going to pretend that I “get” the other side. But I am committed to listening to what is truly going on and doing my best to solve the true problems as I see them.
To answer before listening– that is folly and shame. (NIV)
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. (NLT)
A wise person listens to both sides. An arrogant person stops listening because he thinks he’s already got it figured out. The fact that our country is in such upheaval is a clear sign that someone is not listening – or truthfully, that NO ONE is listening.
I heard a great quote from Richard Branson this week from one of his business books. He said, “I never learn anything by listening to myself.”
I have found that it does not profit me in my relationship with my wife if I demand to be right and continue to fight “to the end” until she agrees with me. When we have a disagreement, it is much more helpful for me when I stop trying to prove that I’m right and start listening with the intent of understanding her perspective.
Often when my wife and I get into a conflict, the issue we are fighting about is not even the true issue. To get to the true issue, we both have to work at listening. And it does take work!
Jesus taught a “power-under” approach to affecting and infecting our culture rather than a “power-over” approach. He didn’t call us to fight or to subvert others into submitting to our position. His perspective was to love and to serve.
Rather than throwing your hands up in despair and disgust for those who are on the other side of this issue, I would encourage you to take up Jesus’ approach: love others with everything that is within you.
Don’t be rude. Don’t put others down. Don’t mock. Don’t slander.
Just love. And listen.
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Chris Russell (send me a Facebook friend request!)
Veritas Church (Cincinnati, OH)
6 thoughts on “A Christian Response to the Ferguson Disaster”
Listening is the first step to engage and show respect to build trust to connect and enter into a relationship. There are many symptoms of the disconnect between races, sexes, ages, social economic class and all aspects of people. Listening and hearing is a first step to understand the great divide that exists from misunderstandings and the ignorance that comes from judging differences instead of understanding and honoring them. The most powerful way to listen is to step back and enter into prayer and let GOD show the way and support connections that can change lives from the everyday and ordinary experiences of life before they reach a crisis stage.
Great insight, Todd!
Jesus used to show love even to His enemy, but that does not mean He used to agree with Unjustices. By the contrary He denounced unjustice. So i don’t agree with killing an unarmed boy. And i don’t think Jesus agree either.
Paul, your argument and the use of the term “unarmed” is pure sophistry. Was this “boy” unarmed simply because he was not in possession of a firearm, a knife, etc. while assaulting a police officer? What about his natural capacity to do harm with such things as swinging his fists, leveraging his weight, or throwing an object?
Let’s take the police officer out of the picture and put Paul in his place. This “unarmed boy” has words with Paul, starts getting physical, and starts punching Paul. Let’s also assume Paul understands the true meaning of “turn the other cheek”. If Paul has a weapon (his own fists, his ability to leverage his own weight, a knife, a bat, a gun, etc.) which could serve as a deterrent to the assailant doing further harm to Paul, is Paul not justified in employing such a weapon?
Jesus calls us love our enemy, but you twist it just a little to mean that we are to “show love” to our enemy. Should we show love either by rolling over or through a misunderstanding of turning the other cheek? Jesus loved the Pharisees, but He showed great animosity toward them to the point that they and the Sadducees were the primary groups singled out as being on the wrong side of the Lord.
I loved what you wrote. In theory if this happens it will solve a lot of racial injustice. I can tell you from a black person’s perspective that the black community is really tired of our black boys being murdered. We also know that when this type of incident occurs that the police officer or another white on black crime that the white person will be acquitted. I would love for us to walk together as Amos tells us. How can we walk together unless we agree. From my struggles with segregation, prejudice, and just plain meanness from the other side my hope is that we walk together but my experience tells me it won’t happen. I really try and do as I was taught from a child which is to try and love everyone and treat people with respect. Although I grow tired sometimes with the prejudice that Instill encounter I have not given up the fight. I am truly concern for both races. I believe you are correct. Unless we listen without forming our opinions first we cannot hear others. Thank you for addressing this issue from a spiritual point because we are definitely looking at this from a natural. Maybe tomorrow we will walk together in love and unity with Christ being our center.
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Great words, Paulette! And thank you for the encouragement. I know I may not be able to change the world completely, but I can at least change me. And maybe I’ll help some others somewhere along the way.