Imagine God decided to break the covenant with humankind and flood the earth again. But this time, Noah’s ark is big enough to hold all humanity. Everybody in the world would have another chance. Our fate would depend on everybody in the ark getting along!
This is a scary idea for several reasons, not the least of which is we would all be in the same boat. Because if we were all in the same boat, it would be hard to distinguish people jumping overboard on their own from people being thrown overboard by somebody else.
No time would pass on the new ark before people would segregate by race, religion, culture and language. Territories on the ark would be fought for and claimed. Competition for resources would be intense. Walls would be built to keep undesirables out. A scant few pockets of genuine joy would be threatened by jealousies that annoy. These things and more would occur before flood waters recede; that is, if flood waters recede …
Ferguson, MO and what happened there is not new.
It is a sad sequel provided by the “Show Me State” that gives us a fresh peak under the rug … Another young man’s life is tragically lost; another policeman’s life is dreadfully wrecked. Families mourn, communities are torn, friends defend friends, looters loot and shooters shoot, politicians and, even clergy, scramble to grab a picket sign or a microphone when God only knows and understands.
Paul writes to the church in Rome, “God does not show favoritism.”
What Paul is telling Christians in Rome is, “We all are already in the same boat …” Our boat is called planet earth and we all occupy this space under the same expectations of the same God. How ‘bout we begin with that, hmm?
What are God’s expectations of people of faith?
The answer to this question is key because if we satisfy God’s expectations then tragedy like the one in Ferguson, Mo. will be averted. God’s expectations are found, in part, in God’s law: the Commandments, the Torah and the Holiness Code, and some would argue the entirety of the Holy Bible.
We need law, but when we see people use and abuse even God’s law to establish or sustain their own ideas, their territory, their walls, their pockets, their expectations, then we begin to realize all of us have the capacity to miss the forest for the tree.
Christ Jesus comes, in part, so we may more clearly see God’s expectations for the planet. It was a lawyer, an expert in the law, who asked Jesus, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the words of all the prophets.” (Matthew 22: 36 – 40)
Our role as followers of Christ Jesus could not be clearer.
Yes, the president has a job to do. The Attorney General has a job to do. A governor, mayor, sheriff, prosecutor, defense attorney, journalist, a minister preaching the social gospel, a grand jury has a job to do. We all have a role to play, but the sooner we understand we are all in the same boat subject to the same expectations of the same God, the sooner these tragedies end.
If you want to make things better, then, sure, run for office, grow the economy, create living wage jobs, elevate access to quality education, register voters, establish more crime prevention programs; improve police community relations. Really, there are many good things you can do …
But if you want to fix Ferguson, if you want to fix the planet, then “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Dr. Dennis Andrews is a reverend at Community Presbyterian Church, at 1920 SE 4 St. in Deerfield Beach, 33441.