Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I have no wisdom to offer

On Monday night, my wife and I sat in our suburban St. Louis family room and watched St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough tell reporters and the world that the grand jury did not return a true bill against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. In other words, no charges would be filed.

Since the death of Brown in August, I have heard and read much about the case, and early on I understood one thing.

Tell me how you vote, and I will likely be able to tell you your opinion on the Brown case.

I first saw it two days after Brown’s death. A good friend published a blog post, which was as extreme as any I have seen since that time. Anyone who gently pointed out that we didn’t yet know the facts to draw any conclusion was rudely dismissed – this happened because of endemic and institutional racism, and because white police officers are by definition racist.

My friend is an otherwise gentle soul. I like his writing and his books. I’ve reviewed his books, and favorably; in fact, that’s how we introduced ourselves to each other. I wasn’t surprised at his feelings; I was shocked at the absolutist way he responded to even mild criticism. He seethed with anger.

Many people have been writing about Ferguson. The writing is largely predictable, even among most Christians. I’ve seen lots of feelings, beliefs, arguments, and advice. What I have yet to see – from any sector or individual – is wisdom.

And let me say right here I have no wisdom to offer. This is not the time for wisdom.

Yesterday I watched the press conference by the mayor of Ferguson, followed by the press conference by the governor of Missouri trying to explain why the National Guard wasn’t sent into Ferguson last night until after the business district was looted and burned. (Looters hit corporate targets like Walgreens, McDonalds and Toys R Us; they also hit a cake shop, a beauty supply business, a Chinese restaurant, a public storage facility and the convenience store where Michael Brown was filmed stealing cigars minutes before his death). I did not watch the press conference by Attorney General Eric Holder.

It was the Ferguson mayor’s press conference that has stayed in my mind. With the mayor were ministers from local churches, urging calm and an end to the violence. One, an African-American woman whom I bet can blow out the windows when she’s in the pulpit, gave a mini-sermon. None of them offered words of wisdom.

They offered something more: love and hope.

If our community is to find our way through this to something better, it won’t be politicians, who have generally made the situation worse, who lead us. It won’t be the anarchists who seem to have arrived by the busload from out of town. It won’t be the media, and it certainly won’t be the editorial writers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It will be the church.

Not  churches collectively, but “the church,” the Christians who belong to various denominations and attend various churches. I saw them at the mayor’s press conference, and I recognized them. I see them at my own church, which is still a buttoned-down Presbyterian kind of place. I see them at a lot of churches in St. Louis, and I see some who don’t attend church at all.

In The Cure: What if God Isn’t Who You Think He Is and Neither Are You, authors John Lynch, Bruce McNichol and Bill Thrall say this: “We’re learning to live with a community of people who trust God and others with what is true about them. We discover we’re part of a destiny bigger than our own. While we have an individual destiny, the community we are part of also has a destiny, and we are intertwined with it.”

It will be the church who leads us, the church led by the Spirit.

Politicians will not be able to do this.

Only the Spirit-led church can do it.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Cure. To see more posts on this chapter, “Two Destinies,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact. This concludes our discussion of the book.

Photograph by Ken Kistler via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Bill (cycleguy) said...

Very well said Glynn. I confess to not following the events that closely. However, I agree with you on very vital point: the only solution is Jesus and the love and hope He offers. No one else has wisdom or answers.

Sandra Heska King said...

Love one another.

Thank you, Glynn.

Martha Jane Orlando said...

Amen, Glynn, amen . . .

Jeff Jordan said...

When one starts by saying he has no wisdom to offer, well, it's a pretty gods bet he does. Thanks.

Jeff Jordan said...

"Good bet"

Doug Spurling said...

Thanks Glynn, keep up the Good work being a part of His cure.

The cause: But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

The cure: Beloved let us love one another for love is of God. God is love...and perfect love casts out all fear.

(Rev. 12, 1 John 4)

The wisdom of love.

Anonymous said...

I don't know when i am going to learn that things are never what i think...

LOVe to you and Janet.

S. Etole said...

Thank you. Abundantly.

jasonS said...

I love how you stated this. Offering wisdom in a time of chaos is not going to accomplish, but offering love and hope is key. I think wisdom in a situation like this comes across as condescending even if it's sound. Love elevates, and no love is greater than our Father's and His Son. Thanks so much for this, Glynn.

Laura said...

This sounds like wisdom to me: To let the Spirit lead. Yes, we--the church--need to be who God intended us to be. Especially where this is division. Good words, Glynn. Praying for you and your community.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally, Glynn. What happened in Ferguson, Missouri, and its aftermath is a matter of the heart (many hearts and many issues), and only God through Jesus Christ can heal the heart. The Church ultimately has the key to change. But I attend that buttoned-down Presbyterian church to which you refer, and which is comprised mostly of Caucasian members, and one of our sister churches in the city has mostly African-American members. So, yes, we're communicating but not really mixing. And I see this not just in St. Louis, but in many cities and towns throughout the U.S. So can the Church ultimately help if their local bodies remain segrated? We can pray from afar, yes, and we must, but it seems as if either we need to get out of our pews or else invite others to join us in them. Beyond citing the Church at large as having the answers, what charge do you give to individual congregations and members? I'm asking this from a deep and personally soul-searching place? If there isn't even integration (generally) in the Church (meaning in congregations) how do we expect to affect change in the community at large? Again, I say this not at all argumentatively, but prayerfully, truly needing to know (for myself) some solid answer. Thank you for the way you share hope, truth, and light. I continue to appreciate your thoughtful, Christ-centered posts.

diana said...

Thank you, Glynn, for this kind, thoughtful, gentle and heartfelt approach to a problem that is staring us in the face. I appreciate Lynn's good questions, too. This is not going away and all of us in 'the church' need to humbly ask for God's help and guidance. And also? To repent, for years of blindness, even hostility. Lord, have mercy.

H. Gillham said...

Thanks for this.