In Ferguson’s Wake, I Am.
“My country ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty…
Of thee, I sing.”
A friend of mine just asked me how I’m doing. The vast majority of the time, my answer to such a question would be that I’m well. But today, I’m not well. Honesty compels me to share with you that I’m in a funk. I’m in a retrospective place emotionally. I’m trying to process some things mentally. I am in prayer, but not yet at peace. I am…
The no indictment grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri is merely the most recent reminder of who I am, where I am, and what I am. Michael Brown, Jr.’s fate clearly informs me that I am a member of an endangered species in the United States of America. Black is beautiful, but it isn’t easy. This great nation will not let my people go or grow. I am like Moses – but there is no Pharaoh for me to stand before and petition for freedom on the behalf of my people. The criminal justice system – carefully constructed for the purpose of excommunication rather than rehabilitation – is our pharaoh. America’s educational system – within which our young peoples’ hopes and dreams are replaced by someone else’s low expectations for them and their future – is our pharaoh. American societal norms – which are so quick to judge a person by the color or his/her skin and so slow to remember that all men are created equal – is our pharaoh.
No matter how educated, how well-dressed, or how compliant I am, my ability to survive an encounter with a law enforcement officer could depend largely on my size, my body language, and that officer’s threat assessment of my people in general. In that moment, my being a member of the media wouldn’t matter. My being a member of the clergy wouldn’t matter. Who my parents are wouldn’t help me. I love everybody. And yet, I am surrounded by hatred and indifference. How does that make me feel? I feel the same way you would feel if you were in my shoes. I am saddened, confused, and angered.
For all my faith in God, I’m afraid that the more things change, the more they will stay the same. Last Sunday, I burst into tears while I was teaching and preaching God’s Word in the sanctuary. That had never happened to me before. I had no idea why it happened, that is, until I began to write this column piece. The Bible verse that keeps reverberating inside my head is Matthew 5:10:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Can it be that simple? Has a profound mystery of the gospel been revealed?
Well, yes, it can actually be that simple. And yes, this particular mystery of the gospel stands revealed. It’s revelatory. It’s truly a game-changer. Anything given to us be people can be taken away from us by people. People tend to make promises – both intentionally and unintentionally – they cannot keep. God, however, always keeps His promises. He is utterly incapable of failure.
After some time spend in prayer, in meditation, and in thought, I am no longer in that funk I mentioned before. Monday night’s grand jury decision in Ferguson is merely God’s most recent reminder of how important I am, where my God-given gifts are to be used, and what I can do to make things better. God was with Moses. For that very reason, Moses could not give up. Time and time again, Moses fought the good fight because the delivery of his people demanded that. God’s plan for Moses required that.
I am a child of God. My Heavenly Father loves me and trusts me to fulfill my divine purpose. I am a beacon of warm light in a sometimes cold, dark world. My journey will not always be a smooth one, but it is an anointed one.
I love everybody – friend and foe alike. The Holy Spirit which dwells within me makes that possible.
Racism and all other forms of discrimination are not of God. Ours is a God of inclusion, not of exclusion. I will advocate for all of God’s people in courtrooms, boardrooms, and classrooms. I don’t commit to this for my own self-aggrandizement. I commit to it for God’s glory. I do so because it’s right.
I want us all to see the Promised Land. That sweet land of liberty! Together.
I am in the service of the Great I Am. I love, I learn, I laugh, I cry, and I try – therefore I am.
Staff Writer; Arthur L. Jones, III
This talented brother is a local Minister, weekly featured Democratic Op-Ed columnist, non-profit advisor, and sees the Braves winning it all this fall. Rev. Jones welcomes your comments! Please email him directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.