Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager shot and killed by Missouri police officer, Darren Wilson, and some of the “disruptive” protesters of his death in Ferguson, MO has often been called “lawless”. It’s been the one consistent outcry among some folks in the days since this tragedy occurred August 9, 2014.
I can’t see pass the rioting and the looting and violence.
Michael Brown is a thug who robbed a convenience store and was high on pot.
He disregarded the law and deserved to reap the consequences.
These are just SOME of the unnerving comments I am reading and hearing throughout social media.
While I agree the violence, looting and rioting in Ferguson, MO that followed the grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown was unfruitful, it should hardly be the center of our attention. Let’s face it, besides the obvious, its greatest tragedy is that it DISTRACTS– giving the world an EXCUSE to be insensitive and judgmental, publicly shame, settle as unworthy and LABEL folks “lawless”. It becomes an “acceptable” reason to WITHHOLD mercy, grace and compassion. It draws attention AWAY from the real, deep, ailing issues while justifying stereotypes, profiling, labeling and negative opinions. It becomes the Great Big Excuse to EXCLUDE and eventually IGNORE those who are crying out.
RIOTING IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE UNHEARD.-MLK
I get the wisdom behind the nonviolent protests during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. As aptly spoken by SELMA film director, Ava Duvernay, “Someone standing up against a trooper with their hands behind their back is a more sympathetic image than someone with a rock in their hand.” Non violence against injustice is a back door approach into people’s hearts. It takes great spiritual strength to commit to it. Not everyone has that type of strength or understanding in the face of systemic oppression.
WHERE’S THE LOVE?
Michael Brown was allegedly caught on tape robbing a convenience store, unarmed, moments before his confrontation with police officer Wilson. This gave a lot of folks the information they needed to conclude that 12 shots with 6 of those bullets to his death, by Wilson, was justified. Despite popular belief, an unarmed Michael Brown did not DESERVE to die because he committed a theft and to narrow our focus on this act of “lawlessness” falls, once again, into the deep abyss of DISTRACTION.
This focus on civic disorder or “lawless” behavior reminds me of another time in history where a public outcry of “lawlessness” toward a woman caught in an act of adultery hid hypocritical hearts until Jesus exposed them.
Deserving of death according to the law, the adulterous woman was escorted to a public square by the law-abiders of the day, called Pharisees and Scribes, “put before the crowd” where Jesus stood and in a twist of fate, given grace instead.
“‘The Law of Moses says to stone her, What do you say?’, they asked.” Jesus knew the law, yet He approached her accusers with a directive that leveled the playing field and the “lawless” adulterous woman’s death sentence was reduced to a warning and her accusers silenced. Jesus was the only one qualified to throw the first stone but he didn’t.
The public stoning was cancelled.
I believe the public stoning of the late Michael Brown, Jr., the rioters and looters would be cancelled too if we brought them before Jesus in our hearts. Because there’s a greater, wider, deeper issue at hand here that is being buried under the scrutiny and cry of “lawlessness”.
People are hurting in a real way and have been for a long time. Refusing to acknowledge the hurt hurts. Pointing the finger at bad behavior does not in the least deal with the heart of the matter and is as unfruitful as the bad behavior itself. Speaker/Pastor Ed Stetzer shared on his blog, “For many, this is about an incident. Yet, for many African-Americans, it’s about a system. It’s worth listening to why people are responding differently to the situation in Ferguson.” The bible urges, “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”(Galatians 6:2). When we refuse to do so, does that not make us equally “lawless”?
It’s hard. It’s hard to see pass the burned out businesses, destruction of property, thuggish examples and rage as broadcast on the news. It’s hard to see pass abusive cops and political cover ups. It’s hard to see pass all that is wrong. It’s undeniably hard. But we must. According to scripture, it’s the law.
The law breakers, law-abiders, nor the upholders of the law are flawless. A flawed legal system indicted Jesus over two thousand years ago and a flawed legal system kept officer Darren Wilson from facing trial for the death of Michael Brown.
However, it is worthy to note, the public execution of Jesus Christ was not cancelled. He went to the cross and died so that all of us FLAWED, lawless folks would not have to.