All eyes are on Baltimore, Maryland this week as dangerous riots have broken out this week in response to the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of the police.
But in case you haven’t been paying attention here is a sample of headlines.
“Huge fires set across Baltimore as Freddie Gray rioters torch city, loot stores and injure fifteen police officers as violence rages into the night and local politicians are left turning on each other .” – Daily Mail
The liberal response tends to be to condemn social injustice and perceived racism within the system, siding with the rioters. The conservative approach tends to condemn the lawlessness of the rioters thus siding with the police. What however is the appropriate response? Here are a couple verses to think about:
Isaiah 10:1 Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression
Exodus 23:1-3 You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.
Judges 21:25 In those days …everyone did what was right in his own eyes
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
The problem is both in the system and in the individual. We as a culture have rejected God’s rule. We rebel against His law. Instead of God as our highest authority, we have decided to be an authority unto ourselves. We are a people who worship idols, do every type of sexual perversion, hate our brothers, have greedy and covetous hearts, dishonor our parents, neglect our children, and elect people who approve of all the previous to be our leaders. We have individuals who reject God’s commandments and a government which does the same. This inevitably leads to injustice.
Instead of a government of laws that upholds God’s rule we have a government of man’s rule. GK Chesterson once said ““When you break the big laws you do not get freedom. You do not even get anarchy. You get small laws.” We get a ton of small laws. When we break God’s commands we don’t get freedom, we get enslavement. When we set up ourselves as lawgiver, we get law upon law upon unjust law.
Looking now at Baltimore, we see that the blame goes to both sides. We area people who are rebellious. We have a government which makes unjust laws. Rebellious people rebel against the unjust laws. The police, made up of people with sinful hearts, are tasked with cracking down and enforcing these human laws. In the process, some police act as a law unto themselves as well. This leads to more injustice and more rebellion. There is enough blame to around.
The gospel is the answer. God sent His son to live a Holy law-fulfilling life. He willingly took upon himself the shame and guilt of our rebellion. God was pleased to put on Christ the punishment that we deserve. Christ died as our substitute. He defeated death in his resurrection. He therefore ascended to heaven, to the throne, where he reigns as priest and king. We need to repent of trying to be a law unto ourselves. We need to repent of our disobedience. We need to lay down our arms and quit our war against God. He will then enable us to live Holy law-fulfilling lives as well. He will enable us to govern our lives by His law. We will then reform ourself as an individual, our families, our culture, and our government.
Paul says of God’s law in Romans 7:12 “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.” God’s law in the whole of the Bible is just. It is good for both individual and for our government. Psalm 19 says that God’s law is perfect. God is concerned with justice. He has revealed in His word what the true and just path is. As long as we as individuals and as a nation refuse to have Christ as Lord, we will see more of Baltimore. The answer is not lawless rioting nor is it tyrannical government. The answer is submitting to Christ. The answer for Baltimore, Ferguson, the United States, and the world is the gospel. May we embrace it.