Finding God's Winning Spirit

Ferguson, MO (No Surprise)

December 4, 2014 | Greg Smith | Devotional

Ferguson.jpg

Benjamin Watson, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints, posted his view of the Ferguson shooting on his Facebook page –it went viral. In his posting he talked about his feelings of the Brown shooting in paragraphs leading with words like anger, sadness, embarrassment, sympathy, hopelessness and eventually ending with encouragement. Why did his posting speak to so many people? It was not because he is black or famous – it was just the truth.  After reading Benjamin’s post I must say that I had one thought.

I am not surprised.

I am not surprised to see prejudice alive and well in the world. Anyone who thinks that prejudice relates solely to color has not paid attention to history or the nature of man. Any expert on diversity will tell you that prejudice comes from fear/ insecurity which breeds hate and we as human beings are chock-full of all three.  The Jews hated the Samaritans, the Germans hated the Jews; the Sadducees feared the Christians and the early Church feared the Protectants.  Here in this country the young disrespect the elderly, Democrats mistrust Republicans, “rednecks” dislike “yankees” and Alabama fans don't get along with Auburn fans, etc.

Injustice, or perceived injustice, provides the opportunity for angry or empty individuals to act out there bitterness and personal disappointments in the name of a cause. “Civil unrest” is not confined to the black or white issue but rather is a symptom of a purposeless and at times, powerless population.  Viewing the violence video in Ferguson looks very similar to the riots at the NCAA Final Four: Michigan State vs. Duke University (1999) which cost $250,000 in damages – the outpouring of and excuse to rage.

I am not surprised that it took an athlete to view Ferguson in a more practical light. There is something about sports that levels the playing field like no other. I am old enough to have fortunately, or unfortunately, experienced the Civil Rights Movement in the late 60’s. I was a senior in High School in Alabama when the local all-black high school was closed and all their students were transferred to my all-white high school. I can tell you from experience that neither population wanted this – things did not go well.

Negotiating the daily schedule of classes was iffy and fights broke out all day as these two disgruntled groups tried to co-exist.  This was not so much the case in the afternoon at football practice. For some reason it was easier to judge and accept one another on ability rather than color. It became evident (at least easier) to see that on the athletic field all are equal and have individual skills which deserve respect. As members of a team we had a common goal which superseded skin color. It was not about “me” or “you” it was about us.

I am not surprised that Benjamin Watson is a Christian. Not only has Benjamin been fortunate enough to see the value of each individual through sports and on the playing field, he has a personal relationship with the author of unconditional love. Sports and theology collide at many points but probably never as strong as when it comes to diversity and true mutual respect for individual differences. In my view the only thing that teaches the value of diversity better than team-sports is the body of Christ.

The Apostle Paul’s solution to prejudice is simple, “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually member’s one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…” (Romans 12:4-6).

Benjamin Watson said it this way, “BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the His son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.”

They sound the same to me – you go Brother! 

Great blog, Greg!
Posted by Deb on
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