MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: Priorities
I felt that I, as the only black minister doing this column, had a duty to speak to the issue of police brutality against blacks. Because the circumstances of the protests of the deaths of George Floyd, et al were rapidly changing, I waited until the day before the deadline to write so that the message would be timely. I proofread the completed article and saw too much of ME in it; but, writer's block hindered a rewrite.
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done..." (Matthew 6:10)
While I was in my back yard trying to clear my head, I looked across the neighbor's fence and saw that his dog was harassing a stray chicken. It was not my chicken, not my dog, not my yard, not my business. Or, so I tried to tell myself. After all, there was a deadline to meet.
The Spirit of God reminded me that it was quite inconvenient for Christ to leave his heavenly abode to come to this sin-wracked world to die for me. I remembered what Jesus said: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40) Also, "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." (Proverbs 12:10)
My neighbors were not at home; so, I took time to catch the chicken and put her in an improvised cage, while avoiding being bitten by the dog. I knocked on other neighbors' doors looking for its owner. Then, there was the matter of providing food and water for the bird. And the deadline for the rewrite was fast approaching.
The chicken incident produced an epiphany. Gone from this essay are the historical factors that provoked the protests. Gone the concerns of a second wave of the novel coronavirus due to a lack of physical distancing by the protesters. Gone my argument regarding Black Lives Matter, in relation to Blue Lives Matter, and All Lives Matter. Also gone my recommendations for overhauling law enforcement. Good ideas all, in my humble opinion, but not for this column.
I believe God used the metaphor of the dog and chicken to drive home the thought that an attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. John Stuart Mill said "Bad men need nothing more to compass their end than that good men should look on and do nothing." This nation was founded by people who sought something better than the unjust feudal system of the Old World. We who believe in the Word of God can influence the people around us to accomplish this end. "Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." (Amos 5:24) "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
If God put an urge in you to do a thing, He will enable you. Even if, having done your best, the job remains unfinished, someone will be inspired to continue the work. In George Bernard Shaw's play "Back to Methuselah," a character said "You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But, I dream of things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'" Bobby and Teddy Kennedy ran with that thought. Now it's our turn. For Christ's sake, keep the dream alive!