Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken. (Proverbs 22:8, NIV)
I hesitate to add to the torrent of comment about the murder of George Floyd, and the events which have followed. I am also conscious that I am a white person. Nevertheless, I should speak: not only because we all should, but because for many of you reading this, I am your pastor. And with the Bible in my hand, I can speak. Here (and conscious that there’s so much more which could be said!) are five relevant Bible verses.
(1) I start with the one at the head of this post. Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, Proverbs 22:8 tells us. This may be a statement about God’s ultimate justice on evildoers, but it may also - as so much of Proverbs is - simply be an observation about life. If people are treated unjustly, eventually disaster will come. George Floyd’s murder was of course wicked in itself, but the reason it has sparked so much protest is that it epitomises decades of unjust treatment of black people under the law. (“Justice” in the Bible is very much about people’s treatment under the law.) As citizens, we should exercise what influence we have to ensure that our own law enforcement community (for which we give thanks) is absolutely fair, and that discriminatory treatment is rooted out.
(2) The third commandment is that You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (Exodus 20:7). I do not know what President Trump’s intention was with the tear-gas-cleared photoshoot in which he held up a Bible. But he and we need to be warned that attaching God’s name to our own causes rather than His - if this is what he was doing - is a very serious matter.
(3) Our Lord Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). I have to say it’s relatively easy to make the first two points I have - and in so doing, signal my virtue! But observing the sins of others should always prompt us to look at ourselves. So I found myself asking this past week: are there any attitudes, even just tiny seeds in my heart, of resentment of others on the grounds of their colour or background? Any fondled hatreds? Any writing off of people because of their ethnicity or class?
We have no excuse for doing so. We are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The Apostle James condemns those who curse others, made in God’s image (James 3:9). There must be no such action - or thought - in us!
(4) Following on from this, how are we doing as a church? God’s plan in redemption is for a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9) Wonderfully, we are an international church. But here’s a question: how many people from a different ethnic background in our fellowship are you and I regularly praying for?
(5) Finally, I am glad that in a world shot through with injustice, there is ultimate justice. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12). That is not an excuse for passivity in the face of present injustice - quite the opposite! - but it is a truth which helps us trust the goodness of God.
We are due to come to that very passage in Revelation in our teaching on June 14th.