As it relates to race relations in America the summer of 2014 should have been an alarm clock. Between July 1st and August 9th at least four black men died tragic deaths. This brokenness culminated in the death of 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. While there were obvious displays of godliness in the midst of grief, there were also two extreme camps that either took advantage of or downplayed the situation. Some temporarily relocated to the city to promote political agendas. Other saw fit to take advantage of the moment for personal gain via rioting and looting. In doing so they have merely victimized the hurting family of Michael Brown. Others exacerbated the hurt by dismissing his death as a legitimate outcome that derived from his apparently unlawful behavior. Those who are maximizing the hurt for personal and political gain should be mindful of the God who is not mocked (Gal. 6:7). And those who shrug off his death as the appropriate outcome of his actions should pause and recognize that an image bearer has died in his youth. We do not affirm either camp.
The mistake made by many pundits regarding this issue centered around our tendency to oversimplify the circumstances and read them in a vacuum. But what if there were a preexisting powder keg that was ignited by the death of a teenage boy. In the midst of the pain one can only find the value of these circumstances if they address these broken aspects of the culture. To do so will be complex, but discipleship often is. Transformation cannot come if the process is disregarded.
There is a desperate need for the Gospel that makes things whole. In the midst of pain we drag our discontent to Jesus and ask that he make himself famous through this heartbreaking moment.