Friday, July 8, 2016

Police Brutality: Don't be shocked

If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.

—Ecclesiastes 5:8. NASB. Emphasis mine.

Black Lives Matter

The news cycle has been overwhelming in it's coverage of the tension between minorities, particularly Blacks, and law enforcement. Blacks have resorted to technology to record and live-stream the injustices and (dare I say it) persecution directed at them in an attempt to make their voices heard and shine a light on horrendous atrocities.

The statistics are also overwhelming. The Guardian states that, to date, 566 people have been killed by police. If you do the math, The Atlantic says every other day a black person is killed by a police officer. Don't misconstrue these statistics. Not every death is a so-called street execution. That is not what I am advocating about these statistics. Already remember Mark Twain's grouping of lies, damnable lies and statistics. Things are not as they appear.

Yet, we know there's a discrepancy between whites and blacks when it comes to police aggression. Whether the culprit is outright racism or socio-economic realities, it is still a travesty. The adage is clearly coming true: Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. We see this in our law enforcement, our court system, and our state/federal officials.

Do Not Be Shocked

So what is the Christian response? I have seen this verse used to both implicitly and explicitly tell us to just accept what we see and move along. If you don't look at it critically, that is the apparent takeaway. Leave it in God's hands and don't try to get justice for the helpless. Train your eyes on the Bible so you don't see injustice. Turn up the praise and worship so you don't hear the despairing cries. Is that what this verse is saying? Is that the message of scripture?

The operative word in this phrase is TAMAH, which is a verb that means astounded or dumbfounded. It is a state of being. In other words, our hope should not have been so firmly entrenched in this human government that when the human propensity for sin rears its ugly head we are left incapacitated by the shock. In a certain sense, we should have seen this coming given our knowledge of man's capacity for sin. Remember, sin is both natural and repulsive to God. What comes naturally is not necessarily right any longer, see the doctrine of The Fall.

Our great hope is The Lord. We trust that he will ultimately set things right. We also know that he works through the government and seeks to provide checks and balances for the benefit of society. What else is this verse saying when it talks about officials watching over officials and even higher ones? Supervisors have a responsibility to crack down on abuse from their direct reports and it goes on up the chain. But what happens when this system breaks down due to the human affinity for corruption?

Sharing God's Heart

At some point we have to reconcile "giving it to the Lord" with "have the mind of Christ." Just because I have given ultimate control to the Lord does not mean I have no emotional reaction or should have no say in what's going on in this world. We don't lay down our privileges as citizens of the USA just because my preferred citizenship is heavenly. That's crazy talk.

If God doesn't want to see this behavior in government officials, then I don't want to see this behavior in government officials. By the way, nobody (anywhere except the KKK) is saying they applaud this behavior in their police officers. Yet, by their fruits you will know them. This is a discussion that needs to take place in our Churches and small groups and families. Here are a few talking points:
  • Man is corrupt and selfish by nature.
  • Man's capacity for evil increases in proportion to man's influence and power.
  • God is holy and just.
  • God establishes government in human society and holds them accountable.
  • The form of government in the USA gives a certain amount of power to the people.
  • The people, then, are also under some obligation to do right in God's eyes.
  • What should a Christian, whose mind is consumed by Christ, do in this situation?

Conclusion

This post came out way more politically charged than I ever intended. I hate politics with a passion. I guess you could say disillusionment has set in for me. But I've literally cried twice this week after watching videos on Facebook. Your heart has to break for the things that break God's heart. You have to weep over the things that make God weep. Yes, He weeps because man puts his faith in man instead of God. He also weeps because man fails to meet God's standard of holiness. These things are not mutually exclusive. God can—and I dare say he does—weep for both.

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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