“Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Jesus asks this question of the multitudes who had gathered to hear Him speak and be healed of their diseases in Luke 6:39. In Matthew 15:14, Jesus is more definitive and says, “…If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (NIV)
In recent months, weeks and even days we have seen a number of people being lead by “the blind”. The uproar over the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are unprecedented. My heart goes out to the families of these men. However, the protests that have followed do neither them, nor our communities, justice.
I must admit I found it disturbing that people would loot, pillage, and burn down their neighbor’s businesses and in the same breath say that they’re seeking justice for Michael Brown. What about justice for the business owners who are now out of business because their property has been torched or looted? Does more injustice and rioting fix the perceived injustice to Michael Brown and other Black youth? Or is it simply a continuation of the looting that Michael Brown himself was accused of perpetrating?
The grand jury found that the “hands up don’t shoot” defense was a mere fabrication. However we continue to see people, even churches and Church leaders, perpetuating the lie. This disturbs me just as much as the looting and the rioting. Frankly, the Church should be leading the way in race relations; but, to our own determent, we can’t seem to get past being “Black” long enough to bring about desperately needed peace, unity. The Church (mind you) is supposed to affect the culture—leading the way by setting an example for the World to follow. But, sadly it has been the culture affecting, and leading, the Church. In my opinion it’s the blind leading the blind.
In the Sermon on the Mount passage in Matthew 5-7, Jesus says that “blessed are the peace makers for they will be called the sons of God” (5:17 NIV). We are further exhorted to love, at all personal cost, our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48). Ironically, we can’t even begin to attempt this task if we can’t love our own neighbor (a loving of neighbor, which certainly doesn’t allow for the burning or looting of property, etc.). We are instead to be “reconcilers’ according to 2 Corinthians 18-19, not instigators.
Our collective, and consistent, message to young Black men must be to read, and commit to practice, Proverbs 1-4 where “wisdom” calls out to the young man in the streets proclaiming the compelling life principle, that true knowledge begins with the fear of God. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” The book of Proverbs is an excellent starting place to engage in conversations with teenagers and young adults of every ethnicity and background. Psalm 1:1-2 is another, which says “blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.”
You see, this type of teaching, and personal ethic, may have kept Michael Brown from committing strong-armed robbery; and may have prevented the events that eventually lead to both Brown and Garners’ ultimate deaths. I know you’ve heard this before but if Brown and Garner hadn’t resisted arrest they would be alive today. The underlying tragedy of Garners’ case is that he should have been allowed to sell cigarettes, just like any other entrepreneur. New York’s thirst to profit from collecting on tax dollars not only made Eric a target, but also made it extremely difficult for him to feed his family.
However, none of this justifies the Church’s promotion of a false narrative, which only serves to further confuse and agitate the community even more. Romans 13 needs to be constantly read in the hearing of the community as a reminder of our obligation to give honor, respect to those whom God has given authority. However, should the police over step their bounds we must legally hold them accountable through our justice system.
We need those leaders who are quick to open the Book to find out what God says regarding a matter; instead of what secular society has to say. Those who have been called as ministers of the Gospel are held to a higher standard; and although there are times for protest, it should always be done decently and in order. Bottom line, the Bible is our moral compass. Without it we are lost in a wilderness of popular opinions and mindless reactions that exacerbate the problem, with no interest in solutions.
To my colleagues in ministry, I remind you of the words of the Apostle James: “…don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4, NIV) We have no choice but to be counter cultural. That means, we view the world through our moral compass and seek solutions to our problems relying exclusively on the teaching and wisdom from the biblical text. But that’s nearly impossible to do if you haven’t read or comprehended the text. In the meantime the blind continue to lead the blind—which is no doubt why we have as a people fallen into the pit of unforgiveness and racial strife. Unfortunately, this is why we now have two slain New York police officers. God help us.