A Jesus Response to the Race Problem & Ferguson

The Reality of Privilege

The fact of the matter is this: In 21st century America, if you happen to be born white, you don't have the same issues to deal with that those who are black have to contend with. The deck is set against you in ways you are probably aren't in touch with.

Overall, you — as a white person — have it easier to be successful.

Now that fact is not an excuse for violence, revenge, or bigotry against whites. It's just the way things are in this fallen world. Note that I'm speaking in generalities here. If you're black and born into a rich family, you're an exception. And you probably have it better than most whites.

However, until Jesus Christ returns to set this world in order, I don't see things changing too much for many years to come. Yes, we'll have more legislation. Yes, we'll have a more sensitive egg-shell situation on both sides. And yes, we'll probably have more dialogue where blacks and whites can better understand one another.

But I don't believe there is a solution that's going to end fear, suspicion, injustice, or all the problems that have arisen to the surface once again from the recent Ferguson incident. There will be other incidents to come that will roll the same ball again.

If someone is offering solutions, then I (for one) am monumentally skeptical. It's easy to offer abstract solutions on paper. "If everyone would do such and such, this wouldn't happen again."

Why, of course.

I can do that too. If every mortal followed Jesus of Nazareth and lived by His life, then there would virtually no relational problems among mortals. But bloodless abstractions and what will actually work on the ground are two drastically different things.

What I can offer, however, is what I believe to be a "Jesus response" to the root problem.

And I'm speaking here on a level that transcends the local Ferguson incident, the outcome of which is yet to be determined.

A Jesus Response

The Jesus response, I believe, is for every genuine Jesus follower to understand that our perceptions are shaped by our experiences. And for us and others, perception is reality, even though it may not be God's reality.

One of the things that the early Jesus followers taught and practiced is that Jesus Christ can transform one's own personal perceptions, heal their reactions to their experiences, and replace their perceptions with HIS perception — which is truth and reality.

Although the first-century Christians still struggled with their past perceptions of race, namely, Jews hated Gentiles and Gentiles despised Jews, those perceptions had crumbled under the weight of the reality of the new humanity that Jesus Christ brought forth by His death and resurrection.

The result? The world was amazed to see — for the very first time — the two people-groups who lived with profound hatred and hostility toward one another for thousands of years (Jews and Gentiles) love one another, take care of one another, marry one another, and bury one another!

Indeed, the first-century ekklesia was a countercultural community that modeled to the entire universe what humanity can look like when it is reshaped by the power and love of Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus Christ is not only the Lord and Savior of the world, He's also God's idea of a human being. Jesus often referred to Himself as "the Son of man" which can rightly be translated "the real human."

And in His death and resurrection, Jesus brought forth a new creation, a new humanity, a new "race" where all natural divisions, prejudices, and separations have been abolished.

In other words, God's answer to the problem of race relations in America is an transformative encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and an experience of His ekklesia, rightly conceived and rightly practiced.

On this score, Derwin Gray – a black pastor from North Carolina – and I coauthored an article that we feel is timeless in its message, for it embodies a "Jesus response" to the thorny issue of racial struggles and perceptions in America and the world.

Here it is . . .

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