In the wake of the national unrest in 2014, when Baltimore and Ferguson and other cities rioted, Ben Watson – pro football player and solid Christian – made a powerful and prophetic public statement that is worth remembering. Then it was Ferguson; today it is Kenosha.
Watson’s bottom line was this: The Body of Christ must set the standard for the correct way to treat people.
He is right. That begins with an honest inventory of our anger, our wounds … our discontent. Because Jesus tells us over and over again that it is not what the other guy does that causes our behavior. It begins with the state of our own hearts. This is a season ripe for the gift of repentance.
This is an excerpt from Ben’s 2014 statement:
“We have major problems as a nation.Yesterday Ferguson burned. Tonight Baltimore burns. Tomorrow it will be another city … When it comes to law enforcement, race, poverty, education, immigration we always talk about fixing “broken” systems. We resolve to legislate for education, job creation, and systemic overhaul. These are helpful and definitely needed BUT we have done all of these things ad nauseum and look at us! Without a change of heart these attempts fail us.
“So what can we say? What can we do? Systems are broken because people are broken and if systems are fixed without hearts being changed the result will be a legalistic attempt that will lack long term results. Our problems are holistic and common to the human heart. Hatred, prejudice, exploitation, pride, self righteousness, secrecy, and rebellion, manifest itself in the explosions we’ve seen over the last year, the last century, and the last millennia. …
“Tonight I see “smoke,” but we must address the fire. The response that we are watching is just “smoke” from years of hopelessness. After each situation the more I am convinced that the love of God for our fellow brothers and sisters who were created in His image, is our only hope for reconciliation. But the only way we can even see him that way is if God illuminates our view and changes our thought process. I’m not talking about holding hands and singing. Love is an action that compels one to treat another with dignity and respect even if they don’t deserve it. It pushes for education and opportunities for those in poverty. It gives identity and self worth. It administers justice without abuse. It honors authority and promotes peace. It is not weak, but strong for what is right!
“Tonight I see a brokenness that only Christ can give us the wisdom and power to mend. …
“… The body of Christ, must … set the standard for the correct way to treat people.”