George Floyd. A name that just a month ago no one would have recognized. Today, though, this name is front and center for many as protests continue on in many of our cities. Although we in Oriental are somewhat isolated from the happenings in the larger cities, I still felt led to say a few words during this time of national crisis. I have done my best to be fair and unbiased in my assessment.
1) Police Brutality is Wrong.
When a police officer uses force in excess of that permitted by policy and law, then they have taken things into their own hands. This is both lawless and wrong. Police departments would do well to carefully screen their prospective new hires and monitor their active officers for warning signs that would indicate a potential for abuse of authority. When risk factors are identified, the departments should take immediate and appropriate action. Police officers should not overstep their bounds. People should not disrespect the police and violate laws. I do believe that the majority of our police officers serve honorably in what can be a very stressful, dangerous, and thankless job. Let’s not let the bad apples (and aren’t there bad apples in every profession?) taint our views toward and thankfulness to our law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Let’s not forget to pray for the protection of our brave men and women in law enforcement.
2) Anarchy and Lawlessness is Wrong.
What we currently see happening in our cities is inexcusable. It is illegal. Police cruisers being destroyed. Businesses being looted. Objects being thrown at police. There is a place for peaceful protest in the history of our nation. Even Christians have at times engaged in this type of protest. Certainly, in this situation, there are some that are protesting peacefully and legally. These deserve honor and respect because they are protesting in a way that is consistent with Christian principles. However, some of what we see on display in our cities is anything but peaceful protest. It is anarchy. It is lawless. It is criminal. In some cases, I fear that malevolent outside forces are at work with a clear intent to de-stabilize and overthrow the established government. The sad part of all of this is that some businesses that were already struggling to re-open after COVID-19 are now getting burned and looted. This is senseless and cruel. If you want your voice to be heard and respected, violence and destruction of property is not the way to go about it. Violence and destruction of property actually can cause a person to lose their credibility, their voice, and their privileges as an American citizen.
3) Everyone is Entitled to a Fair Trial and the Presumption of Innocence until Proven Guilty.
A key question in all of this is whether the police officer, Derek Chauvin, committed a crime. Apparently, the officials think so, because they determined there was probable cause to charge him with 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree man-slaughter. So, is he innocent or guilty? At the present time he is innocent. You may say, wait a minute, I watched the video, it looked so bad. I agree with you, it did look bad. No argument on that point. However, in the American legal tradition, no matter how good or bad things may look, a person is entitled to representation and a fair trial, before that pronouncement is to be made. Investigations need to be completed, all angles need to be evaluated, and all of the evidence needs to be weighed in the balance. Each side gets a chance to make their case. Let’s pray that the truth would be known and true justice would be served in this situation. Let’s also pray for everyone involved, including Mr. Chauvin and the family of Mr. Floyd, because the one thing we can all agree on is that this situation has left behind a broad trail of hurting people who need Jesus’ love, peace, and presence.
4) People Need Jesus.
Only Jesus can remove hate from our hearts and replace it with divine love. Only Jesus can enable us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Only Jesus can help us to treat others properly as we would want to be treated. Only Jesus can help us to choose love and forgiveness, instead of abuse of authority, violence, and destruction of property. All people, regardless of race or socioeconomic position, are created in the image of God and worthy of dignity, love, and respect. Only when this ethic of Jesus comes alive in our cities, will we see an end to the violence. But before it can come alive in our cities, it first has to come alive in our hearts. Let’s pray for the faithful Pastors and churches that minister in our cities that they would have a tremendous positive impact on the hearts and lives of all they come in contact with. Let’s pray for the peace of our cities.
5) People Need Constructive Work.
When I was growing up there was a saying, “an idle mind is the Devil’s work shop”. When I was growing up, I worked all of the time. When I wasn’t working on my Father’s farm, I was working on my Uncle’s farm. When I wasn’t working on the farms, I was in school. I didn’t have time to get in trouble even if I had wanted to! I have a distinct feeling that some of our young people have lost their focus and don’t have enough constructive things to do. In situations like this, it is all too easy to get caught up with groups and movements that at their base have evil intent. Pray for our young people and those who minister to and mentor them, that they would be guided into more Christ-like and productive ways to make positive change in our society rather than resorting to destruction of property, violence, disrespect for law enforcement, and violation of laws. Let’s pray for good educational and job opportunities for these young people so that they would not feel trapped in poverty with no available pathway to a better future.
And let’s all pray together that the Prince of Peace, Jesus, would come and bring healing to our land, beginning in our cities. They so desperately need it at this time. Upon this, we can all agree.
Be Safe and Be Blessed,