Race and the Gospel by Darryl Smith
As I sat the other day at my computer with tears rolling down my face as a believer in Jesus Christ, my heart was very heavy about Ferguson-- not the event itself or even the verdict, but how we as believers are responding.I have had the privilege of being in full-time Christian work for over 19 years now. In those years I have met many godly men and women who have poured their lives into mine. Many of them are white brothers and sisters, who have welcomed me and Gwen as overnight guests in their homes. I will always be grateful to God for their support and prayers for my family and me.I serve in ministry with some of the most godly leaders that God has called to serve Him. I think of Mark Gauthier, Steve Sellers, Steve Douglass, Lee Cooksey, John Sather, Marc Rutter and so many more that the list could go on for days.I also know that these godly men will never know what it means to be a black male in America or the hurt and pain that comes with just being a man in black skin. To walk into a bank, or a car dealership and know that I'm at a disadvantage, not because of my credit score but because of my skin color.They don’t know what it’s like to sit down with my sons and tell them “if you are stopped by a police officer, make sure you keep your hands in view.” Neither one of my sons will ever walk in a store and push a store owner down or disrespect a police officer, but I must live in fear that not only one of them, but even I could be shot or hurt by a police officer who might panic because “ALL black men are dangerous, and violent.”Now I know there are good officers out there, many of whom I know personally and have broken bread with. I have had two different retired police officers ask me to forgive them after they heard my story of God’s redeeming love for me. They also told me that they work in the inner cities to mistreat blacks. God is my witness on those two accounts.The reality is that we live in a broken world and we all have sinful natures. Because of that, in every profession there are good and bad people- bad and good pastors, good and bad doctors, executives and so on. We all can make mistakes in our professions, and we live with the regrets of those mistakes for the rest of our lives.I also have been been blessed to have godly black men and women in my life who have poured into in Gwen and me. These sisters and brothers are great preachers and mentors who have pioneered the way for me and Gwen. We stand on their shoulders.The Bible teaches us as believers to have the same mind as Christ Jesus- not the mind of CNN or Fox News but the mind of Christ Jesus. Christ has a mind of love, compassion, forgiveness, and humility. We as believers has been transferred from the Kingdom of darkness where Satan and sin rule to the Kingdom of God Son where Jesus rules. We cannot allow the world to determine our response to incidents in Ferguson or New York City. We must instead respond according to God’s son.So now here's my response: If you are a believer I'm not telling you how to respond but I'm asking you in love to do so with a Christ-like love that draws people to Him and does not push people away from Him. In Jesus’ priestly prayer, he says that when we become one, the world will know we truly belong to Christ. Our unity will be seen when we show love to one another.I am asking my white brothers and sisters in Christ and my black brothers and sisters in Christ not to allow Satan to tear the body of Christ apart. The world will be torn apart, not least because of the media that stands to profit from divisive and provocative coverage of Ferguson, New York City and the events that have followed.The body of Christ must stand together, modeling the unity in the midst of diversity that Paul describes in 1 Corinthian 12. Rather than allowing any one member to feel shamed, less worthy or condemned, we are to honor and lift one another up in our differences. The end goal, is that there would be no division in the body, but that its members would have the same care for each other. If one part suffers, we all suffer; if one member is honored, we all rejoice.Greater is He in us than he that is in the world. I pray that each and every one of us as believers would have compassion for Mike Brown’s family and the look of their son. And that we would each see Darren Wilson with a heart of forgiveness and love, just as Christ loves him. The Bible teaches that we should keep no record of wrong. We can’t and don’t know precisely what happened or who was in the right or wrong, but if Mike Brown and Darren Wilson have confessed Jesus as Lord, their sins will be forgiven.We must live and love one another with the mindset of Christ, always seeking to reconcile and forgive as well. That is how we know we have passed from death to life- we love one another with a godly love.The events of Ferguson and New York cannot change my love for you because Jesus Christ has done transformative work in my heart.Darryl Smith is the national director of Cru High School. Read more about him here. He was the keynote speaker at our fall retreat, where we recorded his sermons and have made them available here.