I live in Hardin, Montana. That is a long way from the shooting incident that took place in Minnesota (not just in a geographical sense). When I read the reports and saw the video my heart was broken. It involved a routine traffic stop of a normal man driving a normal car who was the latest victim of excessive force by an officer. Philando Castile lost his life yesterday. Here are five reasons you should care as a Christ follower.
- Prejudice can kill. Our preconceived notions and opinions that are not based on reason or even actual experience are at the root of so many areas of conflict in our society that it is no laughing matter. We all have them but should we care about our prejudices? Even the Apostle Paul had them (Titus 1:12-13). When we make hasty generalizations about people groups and cultures that we don’t know and have never experienced enough of to make a fair and reasonable judgement we act in prejudice. We should consider that the children we raise as fathers and mothers will carry our prejudices with them. As Christ followers we do not talk enough about prejudice. Why should we care about the prejudice involved in the Philando Castile story? Because years of prejudice poured into the soul of the officer behind the Gun that was used to kill Philando Castile was working against justice. Proverbs 18:13
- Racism gives us the moral high ground and justification to function in our prejudices guilt free. It’s one thing if I joke about a culture different than mine or poke fun in jest about cultural, physical and ethical prejudices but when I exercise those prejudices from a sense of ethnic, physical and cultural superiority now we are walking in the minefield of racism. If I feel justified based on my ethnicity to look down on or dominate folks based on race alone I am a racist. Racism gives our prejudices a moral catalyst. Racism is the wildfire of tribalism. From a blimp view our common denominator as people is found in the image of the God we mirror. We have been made in his likeness and after his image no matter how cracked and flawed that image is we must care for one another in that light. As followers of Christ we have not been saved by our new culture or tribe but by the new creation graciously afforded us in and through Jesus Christ. We should we care about Racism involved in the Philando Castile story? Because God has made one new race in Christ available to every race in Adam. 1 Corinthians 15, Ephesians 2:14-15.
- Ethnocentrism can replace our Christocentrism. Ethnocentrism is “the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition”. As Christians our ethnicity, social group, or sense of cultural and national belonging is captured in the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to say in Matthew 6… “May your kingdom come soon, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. If we are to embrace any zeal for our ethnicity as Christ followers it should flow from our Christ centeredness. We are one with God and his coming kingdom because “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19. Our oneness with God as followers and participants of the Gospel should truly be a celebration that one of man’s greatest foes (ethnically centered racism) has been vanquished by Christ making one new race unified but not uniform in himself Galatians 3:28. Our Christocentrism is not simply “personal salvation” Gospel centered. Our Christ centeredness expressed in our congregations worship and fellowship is more than just a bunch of folks singing about how they have been saved and they can’t wait leave this old world behind. God is not about leaving this world behind. God is about redeeming it all. We are a “colony of heaven in the country of death” as Eugene Peterson said. We are people who are called to represent our king and his kingdom through our way of life and teachings right now, today in our communities. Why should we care about the ethnocentrism involved in the Philando Castile story? Because our ethnicity is found in Christ and it is for the nations not against them.
- Justice is a big deal to God and the people he calls upon to represent his Kingdom. It has never been a part of God’s plan to redeem a people (John 3:16) who care nothing about justice (Micah 6:8). When Justice to anyone anywhere is misrepresented we should care. Why should we care about the injustice involved in the Philando Castile story? Because the Church (as in the people of God not a building) is on mission toward darkness because justice is actually about people more than it is about laws and courts. God loves people. We are called to be a people who love our God and love people as he has loved us.
- Love is not an option for God’s people. The two necessary hinges on every Church door are clearly labeled “love of God” and “love of others”. If one of these two hinges becomes broken lost or has been replaced with something else the congregation is no longer of God of for the God of the Bible. How does love play into this horrible event? It’s simple do you love people? Do you care? If the video of Philando Castile dying is not a video of you dying than you do not know love. If you are not motivated to pray for, support or in some way to ensure to the best of your ability that issues like this stop happening in the country you are called to be salt and light in than you need to take a second look at the Gospel. If your pocket book and finances are the only concern you bring to the voting booth come election day as a Christ follower than you need to reexamine what you have been taught about the message of God as revealed in the Scriptures. Actually you need to reexamine everything that you thought you knew about God because yesterday your neighbor was killed not by a Gun or police officer.
My neighbor Your neighbor Our neighbor was murdered yesterday, the one that you and I (like Cain) have been called on by God to keep. Our neighbor was murdered by some common enemies of our King and His Kingdom prejudice, racism, ethnocentrism, justice and hate.