“There is power in the name of Jesus. He will break every chain.” (Gospel music played in the background at the viewing of the body of Michael Brown)
At noon yesterday, family members and friends gathered for a private viewing of Brown’s body in St. Louis. His mother said “they say tomorrow is going to be the hardest day, but I think today was.”
The black 18-year-old was shot by a white police officer on August 9. Brown’s father said he didn’t want protesters at the funeral, since what their son needs is a moment of silence.
Just before the viewing was finished, the Rev. Charles Ewing, the late teen’s great-uncle led the family and friends in prayer. “Help us, Lord, to get through this. Help us bind together in the spirit of unity and let peace prevail. Let joy prevail. Let harmony prevail. In the mighty name of Jesus. Help us to keep our minds stayed on You, for You said You would keep in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on You. There shall be glory after this.”
Racial discrimination has a long and sad history, but the Bible consistently condemns it. If we go back far enough, we’re all related (Genesis 1:26-28; 3:20). God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). Evidence from genetic science points to the unity of the human race. The Human Genome Project shows that the human genome sequence is almost exactly the same (99.9%) in all people.
The parable of the good Samaritan exposes the wrong of the ethnic prejudice between Jews and the Samaritans (a mixed race). Jesus told His followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19)—all ethnic groups. Paul taught that unity among different ethnic and racial groups in the church witnesses to the world of the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10). God’s plan is the unification of diverse kinds of human beings in one body, the church of Jesus Christ.
It is terrible when Christians of any racial background exclude others from their churches. This is antithetical to the glorious future God promises (Revelation 7:9-10).
Some of us grew up singing “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world; red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” He still loves them, and they are still precious.
So what color is God’s skin? The Up with People song gets it right—“It is red, it is yellow, it is black, it is white; everyone’s the same in the good Lord’s sight.”
In yesterday’s Washington Post, Columbia University’s Fredrick Harris asked the question, “When does a moment become a movement?” He wrote, “Events such as the killing of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown can provide the moral shock that political movements need to build their ranks and bring attention to a community’s afflictions.” Whether or not what happened in Ferguson, Missouri sparks a movement remains to be seen. But in the shadows of grief, the vision of peace still inspires hope in believing hearts.
I can almost hear echoes of Martin Luther King, Jr. quoting Amos 5:24—”Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Johnny R. Almond
Christian preacher and writer
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity