Now here’s the thing. GP isn’t an either/or kind of guy. Grumpy Pastor doesn’t join sides or movements or use hashtags about who matters because Grumpy thinks these things tend to be poorly defined and short sighted. Humanity is messy. There are usually at least 7 legitimate positions to every argument and multiple things are usually true at the same time. Think about these…
#alllivesmatter You bet! Sure, all lives do matter! But you know what? African-Americans are really trying to make it known how difficult life is when you’re black. And make no mistake about it… it is much, much harder to be black in America than it is to be white.
#blacklives matter. You bet! Black lives sure do matter. But you know what is lost in that hashtag? Many of the shooting incidents that brought on #blacklivesmatter are not clear-cut, not to mention all of the other deaths of black people that happen not by police gunshot.
#bluelivesmatter They sure do. Cop’s lives do matter. But police officers are human too, and as such that means they’re going to make mistakes. They will and do screw up. They are not infallible.
So it becomes a battle of the wills. People become tribal. Where you stand depends on who you sit with, and vice-versa. And when people join together in such tribal and groupish ways, they lose the ability to be self-critical.
Sometimes there is some simplicity that cuts through that multiple truth muckety-muck of messiness. A while back one of GP’s pastor buddies was a hospital chaplain on the South Side of Chicago. This was at a level one trauma center with lots of gunshot victims that came into its E.R. Grumpy Pastor asked him, “with all of the gunshots coming in, how do you process it? What do you think about all of that death?” His answer was simple. “People just forget that other people are children of God. If people treated others as children of God, it’d all go away.”
His truth was scathingly true. And it’s pretty true about the world in particular. I believe the real hashtag people should use is #idontthinkyourlifematters We are full of sin (see Romans 3:23) and #idontthinkyourlifematters is actually much closer to the truth. The hidden and dirty secret undergirding our post-racial America is that even though we have managed to elect a black president, white people and black people as groups don’t like each other. They don’t live with each other. They don’t work with each other. They don’t know each other. They are two ships passing each other in the night, yet managing to scream at the other across the vast expanse of ocean in between.
Well, amidst that darkness and despair, GP still has a little hope. That hope is founded in what might happen in the future. Humanity is capable of awful things, but at times, with God’s help, humanity can also do amazing things.
So what will get us to that future? Well, for a start, the people who use that hashtag you don’t like? Guess what? They’re children of God. Yes, that’s right. Terrance Crutcher, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddy Gray, and all of the others who have died as symbols of our racial inequality and problems in the United States… they were (and are) children of God. The Ferguson protestors, Colin Kaepernick, folks with #blacklivesmatter signs, they too are children of God. The officers Betty Shelby and Darren Wilson, and other police officers, they too are children of God. The slacktivists sharing #alllivesmatter memes and articles, they too are children of God.
That’s where Grumpy Pastor’s hope is placed. Someday, those folks you don’t like, the ones who you think cause all of the problems in your world, well, God loves those sinners just as much as God loves you.