In April, riots broke out in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, who died after sustaining injuries in police custody. These riots, like the ones in Ferguson, Missouri last November, have gripped the nation. As a Christian and a pastor, there are many questions that come to mind, but the main one is “What should our response be?”
Do Not be Quick to Judge
One of the disadvantages of a 24/7/365 media is that limited information is available as events unfold. The events themselves are reported, but many facts or reasons behind the event are not yet known. It is easy to jump to conclusions about what did or did not happen. We should be slow to make judgement and let the facts come forward before speaking a strong opinion, commenting on social media, or joining the event ourselves.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19
This is a great verse to apply in these situations.
Empathize with Those Who Are Suffering
It should sadden us to see people suffering. We should hurt when people are hurt and treated poorly for any reason. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth he proclaimed “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). As Christians, we should empathize with those who are suffering. A friend of mine recently shared that he couldn’t drive through neighborhoods looking for open houses on the market because people would see a black man driving slowly and call the police. He felt he had to shop for a house online and then set up an appointment with an agent in order to take a look at the house, so he would not be judged by the neighbors. Because of the love of Christ in me, I was able to empathize and comfort my friend in a small way. When we love as Christ loved, barriers are broken down between people.
Trust in the Sovereignty of God
There have always been injustices and as long as there is sin on earth, there will always be injustices. Many times throughout history we have seen people do unjust acts and suffer no consequences for it. We have seen celebrities apparently get away with murder. We have seen wicked dictators enact genocide without punishment. Christians, too, have been persecuted, treated unfairly, or killed, just for being believers. There is comfort and hope in this: God is sovereign. He is in control and he knows of every unjust act. One day he will right all wrong (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9). There is comfort knowing that the all-powerful, all-mighty God knows exactly what happens in each and every situation. Many times we have difficulty sorting out the facts from fiction, but he does not. He knows all hearts and all situations perfectly and will bring perfect justice.
Proclaim the Gospel
The only hope for change in this world is to proclaim the gospel one life at a time. The only way a culture changes is if individuals change. The only way the wickedness and pride in my own heart can change is through Jesus Christ. Only Christ can bring about a change from selfishness to selflessness. Jesus Christ gives us the mission to go into the entire world, making disciples and teaching them to obey all that he has commanded.
As long as there is sin in the world, there will be injustice, racism, and violence. However, as we live as Christians being slow to judge, showing empathy, trusting God, and proclaiming the gospel, we do our part to make the world we live in a better place.