People love to point fingers.
It’s been happening since the Garden of Eden when, after he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam said to God, “The woman, whom you gave to me, gave me the fruit and I ate.” Adam not only blames Eve, but blames God as well.
When God turns to Eve, she said, “Don’t look at me! It was the serpent!” She also was implying that it was God’s fault. After all, didn’t God create the serpent and put it in the Garden?
Down through the eons of history, this approach has been our standard operating procedure. Every time something goes bad in our life, our family, our town, our country, or our world, everybody starts pointing the finger at everybody else.
Take the events in the Middle East for the past 20 years:
It’s the West’s fault for what is happening in the Middle East! Death to the great satan!
No, it’s the Muslims fault! Let’s blow them off the face of the earth!
No, it’s not Muslims; it’s only extremist Muslims.
Yeah, but Muslims only become extreme in reaction to Western abuse of power.
Who cares? Let’s kill ’em all and let God sort it out! (Have you ever seen this bumper sticker?)
The same sort of conversation happened during the “Occupy Wall Street” protests:
All those rich people are to blame for our county’s problems. They are stealing our money!
No we’re not! You are poor because you just want to sit out here, hold signs, and commit crimes!
But that’s only because we can’t get jobs because you are so greedy!
We can’t hire anybody because Obama — whom you voted into office — ruined our economy. It’s your own damn fault!
Then there are the recent events in Ferguson, MO:
You white people are always killing black people for no reason!
What? It was self-defense! And he was a criminal!
Self-defense?! You shot him six times! You’re all racist!
No, we’re trying to uphold the law. Look at you! You’re rioting and looting stores. You’re all criminals!
We could go on and on and on. This sort of exchange takes place every day in our lives, communities, job sites, and even families.
And you want to know what the solution is? Jesus showed it to us, if we have courage to look.
The solution is crucifixion … not of our enemies, but of ourselves.
Death truly is the answer … but not the death of our foes, but of me. I. Myself.
The church claims it follows Jesus, but we only want to follow Him if it leads to personal glory, pay raises, a higher standard of living, and the death and destruction of our enemies.
Nobody wants to follow Jesus into death; especially into death for our enemies … and maybe even at the hands of our enemies.
This is hard teaching, and frankly, I am not fully sure about how to live it out.
As I write this, my inner self is screaming, “But what does that mean, Jeremy?!” And frankly, I don’t know. Actually, I don’t think I want to know.
I am not ready to follow Jesus into death.
The idea terrifies me.
But I believe that following Jesus into death is the only way that violence and finger-pointing will ever end. As long as I refuse to own up to the violence and hatred in my own heart, I will forever be pointing the finger at someone else, saying, “They made me do it!”
It’s not the white man’s fault or the black man’s fault. It’s me.
It’s not the rich people or the poor people. It’s me.
It’s not the Muslims or the Christians. It’s me.
It’s not the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s me.
This is the first step in dying to ourselves. Recognizing that I am the one at fault, I am the one to blame, is the first step toward laying down our lives for others.
Racial tensions are at an all-time high. White people blame the black man, and black people blame the white man. But neither is at fault. I am the one at fault.
It is not “they” who must die, but me. If Jesus is our guide, we bring peace, not by killing others, but by laying down our lives for others, and especially for our enemies.
This post is part of the September 2014 Synchroblog. Below is a list of other bloggers who contributed to the Synchroblog this month. Go read them all and see what others have to say about race and violence.
- Wendy McCaig – Race, Violence, and a Silent White America
- Glenn Hager – Can We Even Talk About Racial Issues?
- Carol Kuniholm – Who is Allowed to Vote?
- Sarah Quezada – Race, Violence, and the Airport Immigration Agent
- Wesley Rotoll – Race, Violence, and Why We Need to Talk About It
- Kathy Escobar – We Have a Dream