In the months since January 2011, when God released me from a self-imposed fortress of rules and restrictions, I have come to understand more of the truth which makes us free, as promised by Christ when He walked among us. I have run and danced and imagined myself flying; I have played and rejoiced and celebrated in myriad ways. I have never lost the awareness, though, that not everyone is living free.
Our bondage is sometimes personal, but there are cultural bonds as well, walls built of old hurts as well as new ideas, education as well as ignorance, good intentions as well as wrong motivations. They combine to construct nearly invisible fortresses that protect us from the unknown or misunderstood. Those fortresses also become prisons that keep us from being free to become what we are created to be: joyful creatures at peace with God and one another.
The walls of some of those fortresses have become quite visible in recent days, in the harsh lights of events in Ferguson, MO, and Tompkinsville, Staten Island, NY, among others. Within our fortresses, it is impossible to find lasting meaning and peace in these situations, but it is exactly these kinds of circumstances that make us want to retreat to safety. I don’t believe retreat is the best course, though. I think it’s long past time to lay down arms (defensive and offensive), open the gates, and advance onto the field of battle not as warriors, but as peacemakers. To end the conflict, we all need to do the grueling work of finding, acknowledging, and releasing our own biases and fears.
My friend Judy Wu Dominick writes: “We need to come to terms with the truth that anti-any-kind-of-person bias is ultimately an act of violence against the image of God in them.” Her essay is a long but very worthy read. If you are troubled by any part of the recent events in Ferguson, MO, I join Judy in her challenge that you “prayerfully ask the Lord to help you divest yourself of your assumptions and pursue understanding through earnest questions, with the eyes of a child who is learning something for the first time.”