It happened again. A person of color was killed (murdered) by the police. Don’t believe me? Watch the video, but be warned that it is heartbreaking. The image of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck while he gasped for air and cried for mercy evokes so many emotions. I was shocked, angry, sad, confused, and so much more all at the same time.
As I’ve had the opportunity to sit and reflect upon everything that’s going on I can’t help but share some of my thoughts on the situation as a Bible believing Christian.
#1: Injustice is a Sin. This sounds like a no brainer, but I think it has to be said in our cultural climate. In a world that denies moral absolutes why are so many people upset over the murder of George Floyd? The reason is because they know it is wrong. The act committed against Mr. Floyd pushes on our conscience because we know that it was more than just a clump of cells on top of another clump of cells.
Justice and righteousness go hand-in-hand. When justice is upheld, all is made “right”; and when there is injustice, we know that something has gone “wrong.” This means that in order for justice to be present there must be a moral foundation of right and wrong.
This is why Mr. Floyd’s death hurts so much. It hurts for non-Christians because they possess a moral compass that tells them his murder was wrong. It hurts for Christians because we understand the reality, weight, and consequences of sin.
#2: Racism is Real. We know that sin is found everywhere. Humanity is not exempt at the most horrific of sins, just look at human history and read today’s news. Sin is real and sadly it shouldn’t surprise us when we see racist acts being committed in a fallen world. Whether you believe these sins are systemic or not, they are here and that’s reality. Only the gospel offers the real solution to the sin of racism.
#3: The Intrinsic Value of Human Life. Why do we care about racism and injustice so much? Why does the world also recognize the sin of injustice and racism? Well, because embedded in all of humanity are moral laws that we know to be true across time and space (Rom 2:15). One of those moral codes that God has hot-wired into our souls is that the unjust taking of human life is wrong. Human beings differ from animals in that we are made in the image of God (Gen 1:26–27). Yes, even after the fall (Gen 3) human beings still retain the image of God, albeit scarred or tainted by sin (see Gen 9:6; Jas 3:9).
This means that human beings possess intrinsic value over and above the rest of creation. This value is given to us by our Maker, God Himself. All people are valuable in the eyes of God. His love for all people groups is seen in His acts of redemption. In case you did not know, heaven will be a diverse place (Rev 21:24–27; 22:2). The eternal state will be populated from people representing “the nations.” Oh, and by the way, we should note these passages teach us that national identity will remain in eternity as a way God is glorified in fulfilling His promises to redeem all kinds of people (Gen 12:3; 1 Tim 2:5–6).
Human life is valuable not because of what we do, our level of education, our social status, the size of our bank accounts, or our contributions to society, but it is valuable because we are image bearers.
#4: The Abuse of Authority. Another reason why Mr. Floyd’s death is troubling is because it is a display of a blatant abuse of authority. Police officers have a responsibility to uphold the law, keep the peace, and protect the innocent. It is also their responsibility to uphold civil law for the well-being of society. In the case of Mr. Floyd’s death a police officer abuses his authority.
As a Christian, it pains me to see such an action. I think of how this is the polar opposite of Christ. Think about it for a second, Jesus is God in human flesh. He is Yahweh, the Lord who sits on the universal throne. No one can rival His power and His authority is unquestioned in all of existence. Yet Christ chooses to exercise His authority and power to die for sinners and redeem His people. Even in His final judgment He deals out fair and equitable judgment. There is no abuse of authority in the hands of Christ.
Christians know the beauty of properly practiced authority because we have been blessed by God’s [godly] use of authority. We also understand that we are given opportunities to reflect God’s image whenever he entrusts us with authority. Christians aim to exercise the authority given to us in the same way that Christ did (cf. Matt 20:26; 2 Cor 1:24).
So in Derek Chauvin’s situation he sinfully abused his authority. As a police officer, he was given the opportunity to use that authority to bless others by keeping society safe, protecting the innocent, and upholding the law—but he didn’t. He took that authority and sinfully used it to harm a fellow image bearer by taking away his life.
#5: God Cares about Justice and So Should We. You don’t think that God knows we’re sinners? You don’t think he knows that in our pursuit of justice we will make mistakes. Sad to say, but there are times when a guilty man might run free—and that hurts to think that’s a reality. We arguably live in a society of justice unlike most the world has ever seen. Our country still has judges and juries whereas society’s in human history did not have these graces. Still, with all these advancements we still sadly get things wrong.
Even with our mistakes, God will make things right. “Furthermore, I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness. I said to myself, ‘God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man,’ for a time for every matter and for every deed is there” (Ecc 3:16–17). With that said, we should still strive to function as image bearers of God and pursue justice.
God cares about justice so much that He will not let any wrongful action slip past Him throughout all of human history. A wrongful act committed 5 thousand years ago will be judged, even if the guilty party “got away with it” during his lifetime. A wrongful act committed 5 minutes ago will not go unpunished even if that person “got away with it.”
A few years ago I sat in a chapel at The Los Angeles Bible Training School where Dr. Thorsell gave a chapel message on God and justice from Deuteronomy 21:1–9. There, he drew out some theological principles regarding God and justice. You can see my notes from that chapel here. The message shows us that God has given us principles for pursuing justice. As image bearers, we should pursue justice to the best of our ability, but ultimately trust God along the way.
#6:Know that We’re Not in Heaven Yet. God wants us to care about and pursue justice and so we should. Still, in our pursuit of justice we must realize our limitations. We are not God, we are not omniscient and omnipresent, only God is. The only perfect courtroom is in heaven where God sits as judge and until we are there we are working within the confines of a fallen world. We should lament, grieve, and cry over the fallen world we live in.
But our limitations should not keep us in a state of discouragement. Knowing that we’re in a fallen world should cause us to evaluate, adjust, refine, and pursue justice on a constant basis. As long as we’re on this side of heaven there is always room for change towards righteousness.
#7: Preach the Gospel. Repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ is the singular eternal solution to the problem. When we realize that sin is a human problem all ethnic groups are on the same level—we all need the Savior. Coming to Christ for salvation will not immediately change the injustices that surround us, but it will change the disposition of our heart. We won’t be able to change the situations, but God can change our heart to trust and love Him through our hardships. Preaching the gospel and trusting in Christ will also give us hope and longing for the life that is to come.
The more we see and experience the brokenness of the world, the more we ought to long for the world to come. I cannot wait for Christ to return. I cannot wait for Him to establish His perfect reign. Lord Jesus, please come quickly.