André Mooney is a “military brat” of African American descent. He received a BSBA in Marketing (1996) and an MDiv in Theology (2004) from Golden Gate Baptist Seminary (Scottsdale, AZ). He is a licensed ordained minister (Southern Baptist Convention) and currently serving as a USAFR Chaplain for 943rd Rescue Group (Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ). He is married to Tanya and they have three children and two grandchildren.
On December 2, I was asked to be a guest on a local radio show discussing the Ferguson situation. In the onset of this 30-minute dialog, my dear friend and sojourner in ministry asked, “When I look at the Ferguson situation, I see a tragic event. Why is it that African Americans see this as systemic?”
In taking a moment to consider this question what resounded in my heart was the fact that my friend truly wanted to know my thoughts and feelings.
My response was, “Every African American (male) can more than sympathize with having experienced an altercation with authority (police). Whether it is intentional or unintentional, whenever there is the perpetuation of a racial incident, 400 plus years of the African American plight becomes connected to an incident.”
I then began to recall some of my own experiences. In looking back to our conversation, one realization is that unless there is authentic conversation then there is not opportunity for growth. As the conversation persisted over the airways, there was tremendous tension as we fought the time crunch and sought to model a genuine dialog from a true Christian relationship between two brothers in Christ.
Here is my Christian worldview:
In the book of Romans the Apostle, Paul informs us of the condition: Humanity is broken due to sin (Romans 3:10, 23, 6:23). If we start from this premise, true reconciliation (Romans 5:8 & 2 Corinthians 5:18) is possible as we all find ourselves on a level playing field. In his message to another church, the apostle lays it all out; the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) from which all racial, religious and cultural relationships can be built. The fact is that the God of Christianity is a God of diversity who has revealed a history of relating to humanity through various ethnicities to ultimately display his glory.
When I first heard of the Ferguson tragedy (for the Brown family, the Wilson family and the community), I was reminded of Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees shortly after he dealt with the Sadducees.
When asked which commandment is the greatest he replies,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
As I step out of my emotions and take a holistic look at the systemic racism within this country, the issue seems clear; we are fallen and in need of redemption. The beginning of restoration can only come through a humble admission of sinfulness. The solution comes through the Gospel of Jesus the Christ.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
In closing we all have to ask ourselves the question, “When I look at my neighbor, am I color blind?”