1215) Not a Skin Problem, But a Sin Problem

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Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson, 35, is a husband, father of five, and a 12-year NFL veteran who last year had his best pro football season.  In 2014, he wrote a Facebook post that went viral and led to his first book: Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race (Tyndale Momentum, 2015).  Since then, Watson, a devout Christian, has become the leading voice among NFL players on racial issues.  Here is his Facebook post of November 25, 2014.

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     At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision.  After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down.  Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music, and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from [the] safety [of] movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law-abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me.  So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened.  Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self-defense like any of us would in the circumstance.  Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job.  What a horrible thing to endure.  OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman.  You will not win!!!  And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power.  Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these.  Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them.  Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at.  And that’s not right.  How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me?  That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen.  I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents.  I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends, and mentors.  And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem.  SIN is the reason we rebel against authority.  SIN is the reason we abuse our authority.  SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced, and lie to cover for our own.  SIN is the reason we riot, loot, and burn.  BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through 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.

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Colossians 3:11-14  —  Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.  Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Proverbs 15:1  —  A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Ephesians 4:1a-3  —  I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

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PRAYER FOR RACIAL HARMONY:

God and Father of all, in your love you made all the nations of the world to be a family, and your Son taught us to love one another.
Yet our world is riven apart with prejudice, arrogance, and pride.
Help the different races to love and understand one another better.
Increase among us sympathy, tolerance, and goodwill, that we may learn to appreciate the gifts that other races bring to us, and to see in all people our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died.
Save us from jealousy, hatred, and fear, and help us to live together as members of one family, at home in the world, sons and daughters of one Father, who live in the liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh: St. Andrew Press, 1994

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