5/6/16 Leo about 25
Yesterday I happened to be on a busy street corner in Englewood, a Chicago neighborhood known for its gun violence. In fact, Leo, a young man I had begun a Gospel conversation with, had a scar across the bridge of his nose where a bullet from a drive-by shooting had grazed him a few weeks ago. I thought this close brush with death might have caused him to count his blessings and take stock of his own relationship with God, but it seemed to have had the opposite effect. I don't know what he had been like before, but Leo was very self-righteous, taking pride that as a young African-American male he has beat the statistics so far in avoiding gang involvement and incarceration, but not looking to God for help. Instead he views Christianity as one of many man-made religions designed to control the masses, and sees race-based conspiracies behind all the evils of society.
As Leo talked about rumors of one conspiracy after another he didn't sound too much different than the atheist white guys I've talked to in upscale coffee shops, or the "progressive" white liberals who blame society's problems on the wealthiest 1%. There may be much truth to these rumors of conspiracies, whether race or economic based, but the larger truth of the Bible is there is only one race - the human race - and no matter what socio-economic strata of society we are found at, we are all guilty of sin and fall short of God’s glory, and we all share in the blame for the troubles of this world. Jesus spoke much about the coming of the Kingdom, about God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven, and if we want to work toward that let's stop pointing fingers at others, begin with our own relationship with God, and help others do the same.