Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (Psalm 139:7-8).
Like you, I have been watching the tragedy unfold in Ferguson and wondering if any good can come from such chaos. The father of Michael Brown, the teenager who was shot by Officer Darren Wilson, has stated: "Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. . . . I do not want my son's death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone."
How could such change happen?
A Cultural Commentary reader in St. Louis recently sent me an email on "The Ferguson Response." Their website tells the story: "A great spiritual awakening is emerging in the middle of America. In the midst of great pain and turmoil, many are finding hope and healing through the love of Jesus Christ as he is exalted above the escalating crises surrounding the confrontation between Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown.
"Since October 4th, thousands of Christians from across the nation have united with believers from across the St. Louis metro area and the city of Ferguson through corporate fasting, extended praise, worship, and radical expressions of biblical love. Together, we are entreating the Lord for mercy, to restrain lawlessness and establish his righteousness and justice in our nation."
Believers answered Jesus' prayer that we would be one so the world would believe the Father sent the Son (John 17:21). Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the speakers for the Ferguson Response, joining hands with church leaders and members of Michael Brown's family. Now it's time for believers around the world to join them.
Some believe that justice was served when the grand jury chose not to indict Darren Wilson. Others believe just the opposite; in the words of one pastor, "The system needs to be indicted." My purpose today is not to ask who is right, but to ask how Christians can help. Across this Thanksgiving week we are focusing on 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Be thankful in all circumstances." Not "for" all circumstances, but "in" them. When we ask God for his help and are grateful for his grace, we position ourselves to receive his best.
I am thankful today for believers in Ferguson and around the world who are praying for peace—not just the absence of conflict but the presence of righteousness. I am thankful for police officers who risk their lives daily to protect us, and for citizens who disagree with police actions but respond in lawful and redemptive ways. I grieve for Michael Brown's family but am thankful for their courageous call for reconciliation. And I pledge to answer their call by continued intercession for Ferguson and other cities where violent demonstrations are continuing.
God calls us to "let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5:24). Will you pray and work for that day, today?