DIVINE WISDOM FOR VIOLENT TIMES
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free.…Put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:11-14
If you were shocked by George Floyd’s violent death and the chaos that followed it, Paul’s words to the church offer a radically different path—and hope to our culture.
Houston police officer comforts a 5-year-old during a protest
To begin, let’s expose the problems by the piercing light of Scripture. At the core, all sin rejects the True God and replaces him with Self. What does this look like?
1. Violating God’s Law. The Sixth Commandment: Do not murder, but treasure human life. The Lord condemns Floyd’s death, as well as the murder of retired police Captain David Dorn by looters. The Eighth Commandment: Do not steal but respect others’ property. God condemns institutionalized greed that stifles a healthy economy and contributes to poverty. It also condemns rioting and looting. Speak the truth. Stealing is stealing no matter who does it or how.
2. Replacing God’s Law with twisted human rules. Racial prejudice falls into this category (“All people of that race are dangerous.”). So do other types of bigotry (“All police are dangerous and racist.”). Such ridiculous beliefs are clearly false, but emotions driven by personal experience warp our perceptions so that we condemn others on the basis of those lies.
3. Assuming inner motives, which God alone can know. There’s no question that the police tactics that led to Floyd’s death were wrong. We’re those tactics driven by racial prejudice? Possibly. But that’s a judgment of motive. Solomon correctly prayed, “…You alone know every human heart.” An honest look at the perpetrator’s history makes you wonder whether the same tragic result would have happened regardless of the victim’s race.
4. Personal retribution—the get-even mentality. “I am angry with you because you hurt me and violated my will, and therefore I will destroy you.” You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. James exposes this vengeful attitude as hurled right out of hell: Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
Protesters shield a Louisville police officer who got separated from his unit
5. Failure to love and to give honor to others. Now for the legitimate interests of many of the protesters. God ordained the state to protect all its citizens, to provide justice, and to give order to society. When the government fails in this task, citizens should love their neighbors and work for change—and Christians should lead the way! Throughout history, they have. And because God made all humans in his own image, we can work together with men and women of good will, such as those represented in the two pictures above.
Let’s pray that true believers, of all skin colors and ethnic backgrounds and political inclinations, will demonstrate the wisdom that comes from heaven (that) is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
 Biblical quotes, in italics, are ESV unless noted. Also cited: 1 Kings 8:39, James 4:2, 3:15-16 (NIV), 3:17-28 (NIV)