I sit down to write this post like I normally do, but not like I normally do. The social media newsfeed is alive - crackling like low-hanging wires from high-current transformers.
There are fires in Ferguson, Missouri.
There is looting in Ferguson, Missouri.
Just a few short miles away from where I have seen a St. Louis Cardinal game or two in the past, fires rage and ash-smeared history is being written.
People are blaming each other in Ferguson, Missouri.
People are choosing sides in Ferguson, Missouri.
People say racism doesn't exist anymore, anywhere, but especially in Ferguson, Missouri.
And I believe it all matters.
To me, the greatest test of our spiritual formation into Christlikeness is what comes out of us when we are undone. When we fail at words, when we are shocked and wounded and offended by being offended, and when social media tribes are choosing sides and handing out weapons, we see what really lives in our souls.
We can't see injustice if our souls aren't shaped to see it.
We can't have compassion (literally "to suffer with") if we aren't familiar with the Constant-Sufferer Himself.
We can't love our enemies, and goodness knows we've identified those folks in this, if we aren't near to the One who made His mission turning enemies into friends of God.
It. All. Matters.
There are no throwaway phrases when we are pushed to this place, we say what we really think about "those people" and we show how we really feel about our worldview getting blown up and spread across every page for everyone to see.
We're suddenly embarrassed that we may have failed at something, we who build towers and look beautiful, and we're slow to apologize because, well, contrition means weakness and weakness just doesn't truck in the world we've made for ourselves.
No matter what we believe on racism. Or police training. Or law enforcement profiling. Or rioting. On gun control. Or innocence and guilt. Or economic oppression, food deserts, social marginalization and systemic oppression. No matter what.
I don't know all the facts of the case, beyond what I see in the media. I don't know who to believe in that sphere anyway, so I search for discernment and wisdom in response. I don't think we have to have all of the details in place to know horror, pain, shock, and devastation when we see it. Besides...
It. All. Matters.
We have to turn towards it, we have to say "If it is possible, let this cup pass; yet not my will but Yours be done." (Mt. 26:39, paraphrase) We have to embrace the enemy, whatever enemy we see or believe to occupy that name and that space in our hearts, because we are given the invitation by the risen Christ in the hopes that we might shatter the cycles that started with Cain and Abel - making brothers into enemies and begin to turn the equation on its head.
It all matters because it all sets fire to the gaudy paper wrapping around our insulated lives. It all matters because we can sanitized the just and righteous Jesus out of our lives just as quickly as the simplified Jesus or the politically monotheistic Jesus or the Jesus with the allergic reaction to tidy answers.
It all matters because, only when we stare down the valley of the shadow of death (cp. Psalm 23) - the death of our own presuppositions, our own false narratives, our own false sense of "we're passed that - everything's fine now" - and decide to go through with the fearless Christ at our side...when that happens, we're chasing freedom with saliva running down our chin.
We're chasing Eden with reckless abandon.
Lion and lamb lie down together.
Hutus and Tutsis in the market smiling.
Fruit of the Spirit erupting for everyone...everyone...and a great banquet spread for every "nation, tribe, people and language" (Rev. 7:9, et al)
It all matters. It is all a chance to be shaped to live as Jesus would live if He were us.
Now more than ever, it all matters. It matters what we say. What we do next. What we allow Jesus to show us in stark and clear pictures. What we allow to penetrate us and bring contrition and conviction and repentance.
It most definitely matters in Ferguson, Missouri.
And one day, whether by avalanche or by whisper it will matter where we are, too.
In fact, that day should be today.