© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015
A Guest Post by fellow Evangelicals4Justice Member, Drew Miller:
In an intimate conversation between Jesus and his disciples, just before Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times, Jesus asks Peter, “Will you lay down your life for me?” As Jesus’ crucifixion approaches, his question to Peter becomes reality, and the people who know of Jesus or his movement must make a choice—to suffer and die with Jesus, or to slip away in fear and passivity—to welcome Christ, or to reject Christ.
Peter is certainly not the only one to face this decision. Judas must choose to betray Christ or not; the high priests must choose between power and mercy; Pilate must choose the approval of the people or trust his own conscience. These individuals, however, do not stand alone in their decision-making, but amongst one of the strongest but often overlooked characters in Scripture—the crowd. As Jesus stands before Pilate, it is not Pilate who truly holds power—it is the raging crowd before him that demands for the freedom of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus.
When looking back on the crowd’s decision, it is easy to see how wrong it was until we begin to ask where we stand amongst the crowd in our time. In the case of Ferguson and the grand jury’s decision on Darren Wilson, most of us stand in the crowd, waiting to see what the grand jury and the state may do while we decide what we must do. All eyes are on the jury, yet many of us who are watching realize that the real power does not reside in Governor Nixon or the grand jury, but in us. Just as it is the crowd who sways Pilate to crucify Jesus, so it is we who can determine whether or not justice comes in Ferguson and everywhere where racism exists. As bell hooks writes, “Whether or not any of us become racists is a choice we make. And we are called to choose again and again where we stand on the issue of racism in different moments of our lives.” Today, we have another choice. The grand jury is under the spotlight, but we are all responsible.
Introduction: The Injustice of the Heart
I started reading through the book of Jeremiah again a few days ago. The book reveals an intimate exchange between the prophet, Jeremiah, and God. The book covers a historical time when the sin of Judah had reached its peak and God was preparing to exercise his righteous judgment upon his people who forsook him for other gods. In Chapter 17, God speaks to Jeremiah about the deceitful of heart. His words:
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds (Jer. 17:9-10 [NASB]).