The cascading news stories of violence involving police have sent Americans from shock to grief and back through the terrible cycle multiple times this week. How should Christians respond? Here are five ways to help guide our thinking:
1. Love. If you’re like me, the headlines have taken you on an emotional rollercoaster in the last 48 hours. Always choose to love. Always choose to forgive.
2. Seek unity. As members of the body of Christ, Christians should identify more as their new spiritual race than as their biological one. This is impossible without the power of the gospel working through faith in Christ. That ethnicity that you are tempted to blame: Jesus shed his blood for someone in that ethnicity. Strive for the unity that Christ has accomplished with his redemption. Let the church be the model of forgiveness and unity that society is lacking. Let your Christian unity in this hour be the story you pass down to your grandkids when they ask you about these troubled times.
3. Do justice. Do what you’re called to do as a citizen and pray (1 Timothy 2) for government to do what they are called to do as civil authority. Recognize that God has given the sword to the civil authorities to ensure justice. They need prayer. In a fallen age, human governments are riddled by human failure and human sin. Because vengeance is the Lord’s, and because He grants some limited authority to civil leaders for the sake of justice, unjust officials are to be held accountable by the government.
At the same time, Christians are commanded to respect and honor governing authorities (Romans 13, 1 Peter 2). Every act of police injustice needs to be paid for under penalty of law, but don’t hold good officers guilty until proven innocent. What peaceful citizen would wish upon their city the lack of a police force? Through prayer and proper honor, seek justice by promoting good government. Because government is intended to be God’s gift of common grace to man, Christians are seeking the good of their neighbors when they seek to promote good government.
4. Soberly recognize and mourn sin’s effects. These events remind us that we live in a cursed world. As we feel the effects of a fallen creation, we must view these events with sober-mindedness. Police injustice, mass murders – these are the results of humans being humans in a sinful age. Let us mourn the effects of a fallen world with those who mourn. Sin is tragic, and it is not God’s will.
5. Have hope. This city is not your city. You have a home with God where no police are needed and no punishment is given because Christ has paid for your every sin. Let the victory of the cross in your life compel you forward to courageously seek gospel transformation in your city today. In times such as these, God often uses the hope of Christians to powerfully shine into a culture in despair.