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A Christian Response to the Ferguson Disaster



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.

Proverbs 18:13
To answer before listening– that is folly and shame. (NIV)

Proverbs 12:15
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)


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