Why No Christian Should EVER Be Part of “No Justice, No Peace”

I don’t think any adult in The USA hasn’t heard about the conflict in Baltimore. Freddie Gray died in police custody and the public response, at least for a little while, made Baltimore look like a war zone. For some time now, the cry of the oppressed has become, “No Justice No Peace.”

Peace
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But today justice seems to be catching up to the men responsible for Mr. Gray’s death. The State’s Attorney has declared that the death is ruled a homicide and charges are now pending against the men responsible. In part of the announcement, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said:

To the people of Baltimore and demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘No Justice, No peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.

I’m not against pursuing justice. It would have been a severe injustice to sweep this death under the rug. My problem is with the attitude behind the mantra “No Justice No Peace.”

It simply isn’t biblical. In fact, it’s unbiblical. The Bible calls for Christians to be people of peace, not people of violence. Our ultimate example is Jesus, who submitted to death on a cross. He didn’t ask his followers to pursue justice and to forsake peace until justice prevailed.

We are people of peace IN SPITE OF injustice.

This has been the hallmark of martyrs since the beginning of the faith. In the middle of persecution and injustice, we are people of peace. We rest in the knowledge that God has the final say in matters. Do what you will now, we have assurance that one day all of the wrongs will be righted.

This is the hope that the Church has held on to for thousands of years. We don’t have permission to throw out peace just because we’re angry about injustice. No, this should be the time we REALLY press in and pursue peace. I understand the natural desire to rebel against injustice. I don’t fault people for desiring justice. But it does make me uneasy, almost sickened, to see ministers and Christians embrace a “No Justice No Peace” mentality.

This is not the way of the cross.

This is not supposed to be our way.

Let us be people of peace, no matter what this world throws at us.

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Sorry, Charlie – Racism Is Real

I just saw this short video from Brave New Films. It’s totally worth the 3 minutes to watch it.

So let’s speak frankly. I’m not naïve, and I understand that statistics can be skewed to meet particular agendas. Statistics also don’t give the REASONS behind statistics. By that I mean that some racial discrepancies COULD be attributed to factors unrelated to race.

Still, you can’t negate the EXPERIENCE of many minorities in the USA, and experience (even my experience being a white guy married to a brown-skinned woman) shows us that racism is still a problem in our nation. No, this isn’t a post to justify the violence in Baltimore. The other day Barnabas Piper said:

Random violence and theft isn’t ever the right response to oppression. Neither can it be used as an excuse to overlook the oppression.

That’s it right there. Was the rioting, looting, and violence acceptable? Absolutely not. But that response doesn’t excuse the rest of the nation from hearing the complaints behind the poor response. We get into a dangerous circle of violence and blindness when we ignore the valid concerns. Many of our responses to the riots have been equally violent – not physically but mentally, psychologically, and, yes, even spiritually.

“What kind of hippie-dippy nonsense are you spouting, Chris?”

Just this – I’ve seen a lot of hatred and animosity directed towards rioters. I’m talking about pictures, memes, and posts that spew further racist idiocy. ObamaThis includes accusing Mr. Obama of WANTING the riots – one of the most idiotic accusations I’ve ever heard in my life. And that’s NOT okay. Why do we expect anything to change when we continue the violence against others?

This isn’t the Christian way.

Christians are called to rise above racial differences and be people who humble ourselves, strive to serve others, and consider others BETTER than ourselves (I didn’t make any of that up – it’s from the Bible).

It’s time to knock off the racist garbage and listen to the complaints. It’s time to engage in authentic dialogue. It’s time to pursue the well-being of people who feel oppressed.

This is the Christian way.

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I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

Just One More White Man Commenting on Ferguson

I know, I know. So many people all talking about Ferguson. I even made a joke that today 50 million bloggers would be posting, telling us all how to think about Ferguson (and I would, probably, be one of the 50 million).

ferguson rioter

I really wrestled with posting on the issue (obviously I caved). But part of me really dislikes being told I can’t do something, and there was an overwhelming feeling on social media today that white commentators should just be quiet and listen rather than speaking.

I understand the sentiment behind that feeling and I agree that we SHOULD be listening to the stories of other people. Still, asking me not to speak because of the color of my skin is ALSO racist. My skin color doesn’t affect my brain or my spirituality. If pastors were not allowed to speak on issues they had no direct involvement in then we could never preach on a lot of topics. Never having been married to more than one woman I could speak on polygamy. Having never been divorced I couldn’t speak to the biblical view on divorce. You get the point? We speak on the biblical perspective on things even when we don’t have direct experience because we don’t preach our experiences – we preach God’s revelation. That means we can speak to any issue when we come at it from a biblical perspective.

Ferguson and race-relations is no different. I won’t speak to the legal and justice issues, because I’m not a lawyer. I will speak to the idea of biblical behavior, since the Bible is what I know.

We’re all getting it wrong. There seems to be (I’m going to use the word overwhelming again for the second time in a single post) OVERWHELMING feeling that the riots are justified behavior. They are not – at least not from a biblical point of view.

The Bible calls us to exemplary behavior, even when we are mistreated by harsh and unfair people. There is no Christian justification for the Ferguson riots. Before you accuse me of being racist, please note that I also feel that white people were not biblically justified in violent revolution against England (a position I know MANY disagree with).

There is never biblical justification for violent and riotous behavior in order to bring social change. The supreme example of this is Jesus, who never participated in such behavior. When Peter was ready to riot and drew his sword, cutting off a man’s ear, Jesus told him to simmer down.

There is no biblical excuse for the riots in Ferguson.

But the rioters aren’t the only ones getting it wrong. Many of us watching and responding are also getting it wrong. Instead of reacting with compassion and trying to understand the anger and the hurt driving the riots, many get defensive and are content simply to point fingers at bad behavior.

But we need to do better. From a biblical point of view, we are called to care for the outsider, the alien, and the disenfranchised (this is actually an Old Testament AND New Testament concept). Pointing fingers at bad behavior without trying to understand what is motivating the behavior is not seeking to care for the disenfranchised. When the disenfranchised try to tell those in power, “This isn’t right!” the correct response is not, “Sit down and behave!” The correct response is, “Let me help you pursue justice and righteousness.”

This does NOT excuse the riotous behavior. It is simply to say we must do better at caring for those who are not feeling justice being done to them.

There is no easy road forward. There is a lot of anger on both sides that prevents the black and white communities from having real conversations with each other. But God calls us to pursue peace – to be peacemakers. A pastor friend of mine once told me, “The peace that Jesus brought was a costly peace. The peace that He calls US to bring is going to have to cost us, too.”

Until we’re willing to pay that cost and REALLY pursue peace and justice, the conflict will never go away.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback, so feel free to respond. Just keep it polite and your comments won’t be deleted. 😉

Also, if this post resonated with you in any way, please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and any other method you personally use.

Blessings!

Related Posts:
Reflections on Racism From a Mixed-Race Couple
It’s Great Being White
My Kids Don’t Know They’re Black
America: Still Racist After All These Years