On August 9, 2014, an 18 year old young man named Michael Brown was killed after a struggle with police. Brown’s body then lay in the street for four hours before it was brought in. This act, along with the fact that Brown was black and the police officer involved is white, sparked a great deal of controversy, spurred on by those outside of the community of Ferguson, Missouri.
On November 24th, after many hours of deliberation, the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson–the officer involved in the shooting. Like many, I couldn’t turn away from the TV set as I watched a group of protestors change into a violent mob. Out of that mob, though, one person caught my eye. He carried a sign that read “Where do you stand?” The implication, of course, being “if you stand with Wilson/the police/government then you are standing in opposition to Brown/us.”
Such a question seems very divisive. It draws the “us v. them” line that I described above. However, I saw that question in a different light. Our theme this school year is “Stand in Mercy” and so, as I looked at that sign, I didn’t see division, but I did see confrontation.
And there is no doubt that such a question is confrontational! Even if one views it in a different light than “us v. them” the question confronts us in different ways.
I stand with Michael Brown. I stand with Brown because, like him, I am a sinner. There are those who mourn his death and I mourn with them. A young life has ended. “But he was a thug!” “But he just committed a crime!” Yes. He was violent and a sinner. I am a sinner, too. I do not know if Michael Brown knew that Jesus died for His sins; but I know that he does not have that opportunity to learn it today.
I stand with the opportunists. There are those who used Brown’s death to further their political agenda or promote hate, chaos, and anarchy–whether in support of Brown or Wilson. I must confess that I have also felt anger, resentment, and hatred. I am ashamed, but I have stood with them. Like them, I am a sinner in need of redemption.
I stand with Darren Wilson. Whether he is a good man who was in a horrible situation and had to make a decision that ended another’s life and forever changed his own family’s lives or (as some have painted it) a power-hungry, racist cold-blooded killer, I stand with Wilson.
You see, the question of “Where do you stand?” should reveal that we all stand as sinners. However, through Christ, we stand in mercy! In His mercy, we are forgiven for those sins. We no longer stand in judgment!
I pray that the people of Ferguson–and even our nation–are healed. I pray that they stand in mercy and not in opposition toward one another.