“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” (Isaiah 1:16-17)
This past Monday on May 25, 2020, a man named George Floyd was killed at the hands of police. The story has rocked the nation, as it was another instance of a black man [person] being treated inhumanely by a police officer. Whether or not it was racially motivated or just plain stupidity and lack of judgment, it’s these type of events that give the black community in our nation the sense that their lives don’t matter, when in fact, they do. This situation is all around heart-breaking and disgusting. The scene and storyline has become all too familiar over the past several years, as cellphones have given us the ability to record horrific demonstrations of sin occurring in real time. I have no doubt that this, as with all sin, grieves God’s heart, as it should likewise grieve the hearts of all those who claim to love and follow Jesus.
Child of God, when a life is taken in the manner George’s was, does it break your heart like it does when you hear about a child being abused or a woman being raped? Because all of these are sick examples of those with power (either physical or granted) abusing the ones they hold it over; and showing zero care, concern, compassion, or mercy towards their fellow human being. I have nothing against police (and of course fully support our good law enforcement), but everything against people abusing power and using it to harm others. This is just the most recent and appalling example of it. If the oppression and abuse of another who was also formed in the image of God doesn’t break your heart, then something is terribly wrong.
I’ve written ad nauseam on this blog about how God desires obedience over sacrifice, and that our actions matter as they reflect what’s in our hearts. Read Isaiah 1:13-17 as the prophet calls out Judah’s wickedness and God’s call to repentance. In summary, He calls their offerings and assemblies for Him abominations (v13), says their empty sacrifices are a burden to Him, tells them He will not listen to their insincere prayers (v15), calls them to repent of their sin (v16), and then commands them to cease to do evil and proceed to do good by seeking justice, correcting oppression, and standing for the vulnerable and powerless (v16-17).
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
Similarly in the book of Micah, we read of the Israelite’s attempts to appease God’s wrath against sin by giving sacrifices (offerings) in the place of genuine repentance and obedience. We’re yet again reminded in verse 8 that to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with the Lord goes hand-in-hand with obeying God’s Word and doing what is good. Obedience over sacrifice.
Don’t be mistaken, these words were not just for the Israelites. God’s character and His call to repentance and obedience is the same now as it was back then. These words are for all Christians today.
We cannot merely do religious activities once in a while that make us feel altruistic and believe that it’s sufficient. He calls us to be the hands and feet of Christ, and to love and serve one another as a lifestyle (Rom. 12:9-13, Titus 3:14, 1 Pet. 4:10, John 13:35). We are to be ambassadors for Christ to the world, that through our love and resulting actions many would come to know and be reconciled to God through Jesus (2 Cor. 5:20). But we forfeit being His ambassadors when we stand idle towards the sin and injustice surrounding us.
God hates sin. Sin opposes His very nature and character. As His followers, we should also hate sin and burn with righteous anger against it. To turn a blind eye to the wickedness happening before us is to be complicit, and goes against the very thing God calls us to do and against the very Spirit that lives within us.
George was bound and literally powerless in that moment in time– he had no ability whatsoever to fend for himself. His life was literally departing from him as he cried for help. The very ones who swore to “serve and protect” him tragically did the opposite. He may have deserved to be detained, but not dehumanized.
And it makes me absolutely sick that several other police officers stood by idly as George’s life was taken. People are even upset that an Asian (like myself) officer didn’t even flinch as it was happening. Forget about being another man of color, but being HUMAN should have caused that officer to do the right thing. What the hell is wrong with people? Sin has been planted so deep into us that we don’t even recognize it when it’s happening before our eyes; and when we do see it, we’re so scared to stand out and stand up against it that we’d rather stand there and do nothing. That’s absolutely terrifying.
Christian brother and sister, God is calling US to be His hands and feet. As we’re so willing to bring people money and provisions when they’re in need, we should be just as quick to come to someone’s defense when they’re being mistreated. In the case of George Floyd, our black brothers and sisters, and all people regardless of race who are suffering from injustice and oppression, God is not calling them to rise up alone– He is calling US as followers of Christ to help them.
Will you do it? Will you be obedient? Will your actions reflect the heart of Christ and love for your neighbor? Or will they instead reflect a heart of indifference and apathy? Will your faith fuel you to do good and oppose sin, or to turn a blind eye to it?
We need to repent, and then we need to take action. Pray that God would transform your heart, open your eyes, and give you opportunities to make a difference in this world by advancing the gospel and love of Christ. Pray that He would break your heart with what breaks His, to the point where you can’t bear to ignore it. Pray for those who are persecuted and oppressed and abused on a regular basis. Pray for those who are victimized, for their families, and for their communities. Pray for accountability and due justice to be served against those who commit vile aggressions against their fellow human beings, but in parallel pray that they would also come to find a genuine, transformative relationship with Jesus; that they would be healed, restored, and if possible, become part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Pray the same thing for yourself if you’ve found yourself detached, unsympathetic, and silent.
Then after all of that praying, take action, because your actions matter. This world needs Jesus. Go into the world as an ambassador of Christ to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, and stand for the vulnerable and powerless. Draw people to Christ by the way you love and reflect how He first loved you.
It’s not only your God-given duty as a Christian, but it’s simply the right thing to do.