(Originally written in response to an email I received disrespectfully titled: He Wuz a Good Boy)
My prayer each day includes thanking God for the people, friends and family, who make my life meaningful and good. It also includes asking for the strength, courage, and the love I need to live each day in the path of The Way (as Christ’s first followers use to refer to him). And though I often I fail, my efforts to “love my neighbor as myself” and to “do unto the least of these,” remain front and center.
A lot has been said in regards to the Michael Brown tragedy. A lot has been said about Michael Brown the person. We’ve all heard, read, seen, and even participated in the commentary via television, Twitter, Facebook, and email. What I haven’t heard said, commented, or asked is perhaps the most obvious and profound given that many of us call ourselves Christians:
What do we believe Jesus would have done in the wake of Michael Brown’s tragic death—“good boy” or not?
If Jesus were alive today I think the first thing he would have done in the wake of Michael Brown’s violent and tragic death is rush to the home of Michael Brown’s parent’s to be with them, to comfort them. There he would have wrapped his arms firmly around Michael’s mother—knowing, understanding, and feeling her heart had been ripped from her.
Michael was taken from her in an instant.
She received that terrible phone call.
She had to identify his lifeless body.
She lost her son—her own flesh and blood.
Jesus would have stood there—holding her quietly—sharing in the horrible suffering and loss of a grieving mother who would have rather it been her shot dead than her beloved son—“good boy” or not.
And then, Jesus would have embraced Michael’s father. Or, maybe he would have simply placed his forehead against Michael Sr.’s forehead and stared at the floor as the tears from both men fell from their eyes.
Michael was taken from him in an instant.
He was there when the phone rang.
He, too, had to identify Michael’s lifeless body.
He lost his son—his own flesh and blood.
Jesus would have understood—empathized and shared in the utter sorrow and sadness felt by a father whose son was just killed—“good boy” or not.
If the Word of God, the word made flesh, has taught me anything, I know Jesus would have been there…with them…crying, suffering, and sharing in their awesome loss. Jesus would have left the emailing, tweeting, criticizing, and the debating of “what’s deserved or not” and “who’s good or not” to the rest of us. And, Jesus would have continued being the gospel by his actions while still maintaining an undying hope and even a belief that one day those of us, who carry his name as our own, would do the same.
Jesus didn’t ask that we worship him.
He asked that we follow him.
He asked that we would welcome home the prodigal son, and do everything in our power to find the lost coin and sheep (Luke 15).
He asked that, just as he did, we have lunch with the beggars, the diseased, the poor, the uneducated, the scoundrels, and the “Thugs.”
If Jesus and Michael Brown were alive today…and if they happened to cross paths on some random Ferguson, Missouri sidewalk, my best guess is Jesus would have invited him to share a meal…“good boy” or not.
This is the heart of the gospel.
This was the heart of Jesus.
This is what it means to bring the kingdom of God to earth, to Missouri, to everywhere…as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
Perhaps John Bradford, a mid-sixteenth century clergyman, said it best:
“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
We all are called children of God…“good boys and girls” or not