I’m not even entirely sure what to say…
A lot has happened this last week. If I’m honest, I’m still tired. We’ve seen death. We’ve seen protest. We’ve seen rioting and looting. We’ve seen partial arrest of a group of murderers. We’ve seen an arrested former police officer undercharged for an intentional crime we ALL saw. We’ve seen a dead man, who was clearly murdered, blamed for his own death. We’ve seen agitators turn peaceful protests into violent ones (some from out of town and some from the precinct). We’ve seen both police and protesters die in the civil unrest. We’ve seen a lot in the last week.
One of the things that I have found puzzling, yet disturbingly predictable, is that out of the 99 words in the previous paragraph, many people seem to only be able to focus on two of them: rioting and looting.
While it is good to see that we all agree that using violent force to make a point and that destroying and/or taking property that belongs to others are wrong, it seems as though our continued talk about these distractions only serve as more air to inflate the ballooning diversion. I’m not going to give you the customary “I don’t condone” platitude. I prefer for us to remain suspended together in the tension of this tightrope of a question:
What is the right way to bring about necessary change?
A sister and friend of mine put it this way: “There’s no perfect way to protest. The best thing to do is just do the right thing.”
I love it!
This is something I’ve struggled with these last few days. What is the perfect protest? What is the recipe for the savory treats that are palatable for the majority to take and eat ye all of what needs to change? My reading of history has not provided me any perfect answers. The fact is, my friend is right: there is no singular perfect way to protest. The way we combat the forces of evil may vary, depending on the circumstance. Not every battle is the same fight.
What is the Christian response? In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon—revered as one of the wisest people of all time—said that “there is a time for everything…a season for every activity under the sun.” Before we can figure out what the “right way” is, we need to be sure we’re aware of what time it is.
The Gospels give us a number of stories about situations Jesus was in and lets us know how He handled them. It would be really nice if Jesus gave us prepackaged how-to guides for every one of life’s situations and world problems. It’s not always as simple as looking up key words in the index and finding the right response. Here are just a couple examples for how Jesus handled chaos and conflict.
The Tables Have Turned
While in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple and saw that His Father’s house had been turned into a den of thieves. People were being mistreated and taken advantage of. The haves were profiting off of the needs of the have-nots. Jesus flipped. Literally.
I like John’s account, because he includes my favorite detail of the story. Jesus fashioned a whip out of cords. Dude took some strands of cord and sat there and braided them together to make a whip! I just imagine Jesus quiet at first, like when your mom is so mad at you she don’t even wanna speak to you lol …I see Phillip leaning over to Jesus like, “Uh, teacher? You good, boss?” Jesus keeps braiding. Pulls the braids tight. Keeps braiding. Silent. Nodding His head like, “Bet!”
Jesus proceeds to drive everyone out. He flips tables, lets the doves out of the cages, drives all of the livestock for sale away, dumps the money on the floor. All the commerce: destroyed. I’ll let you decide how to define that.
(I did…I referred to Jesus as “dude”)
Jesus saw something that was wrong. He made a decision on how he was going to address it. He addressed it—forcefully. He said what He said, and not only was He unapologetic, He was prophetic.
Bringing Calm to the Storm
In another situation, Jesus had preached all day and was tired, so He took a nap in the bottom of the boat as He and the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee. As they crossed the sea, they found themselves caught in the middle of a violent storm. The boat was taking on water, the disciples were scared, it was a mess! Meanwhile, Jesus still sleep.
The disciples are flipping out and scared to death! They yell at Jesus, like… “You see this, Jesus? Do you even care?!” Jesus, annoyed (I think He was annoyed) at the disciples for even asking Him that question, wakes all the way up, yells at the wind and sea, the violent storm comes to rest, and Jesus tells the disciples they trippin and goes back to sleep (this is really how I read Bible stories in my head lol).
Jesus literally told the violent storm to be quiet and to be muzzled. Don’t just be quiet, also be constrained so that you can be violent no more.
Some situations call for turning the tables. Other situations can be solved with words alone. I’m not trying to latch myself to either example. Like Solomon said: we’ve got to know what time it is to know what the appropriate response is. I’m not wearing a watch at the moment, but I can tell you this much: it’s about time we make some evident and lasting change!
We can turn tables like Jesus, but Jesus braiding that whip was a clear decision. That story ends with Him predicting His death for the cause. Are we, as Christians, ready to die for the cause of justice and righteousness? Can we even die to ourselves?
We can also subdue the violent storm using our words. But we cannot use words while we are asleep. If you don’t mind the play on words, Jesus was woke before He spoke. Are we, as Christians, truly woke? Or do we just say nice Jesusy things to sound spiritual and shut people up, so they stop asking us to risk our luxuries in exchange for their lives?
I can’t answer for you. You have to answer for you. Our answers will be defined by our actions.
The Church must advance! The gates of hell are waiting for us to do something. The best thing we can do is to just do the right thing.
Keith Goosby II is the founding minister of NET Church. He has served in ministry for over 20 years, in various capacities–including music, social media management, teaching, preaching, consulting, and leadership. Keith’s first church experience as a child was a home church. Since then, he has attended and served at churches sizing from just a few to over 10,000–of various denominations and affiliations. As NET Church is being planted, Keith continues to serve at his Dallas home church, Golden Gate MBC, in Dallas, TX, under the leadership of Minister Vincent T. Parker. Keith is married and currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife and three sons.