boyradd

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Archive for the tag “Justice”

Ferguson 2.0 – Baltimore

The nation has once again broken out into a frenzy over what looks to be a police brutality case. But there are many key differences between Ferguson and Baltimore.

Both cities have primarily a black population, but in Ferguson, the powers in charge of investigating the incident were white while in Baltimore those powers are black. And in Baltimore, both the Mayor and the police commissioner immediately started an investigation into the conduct by the officers on the scene.

One more piece of information is that the protests in Baltimore, except for the night of 4/25, have been primarily peaceful. Police have given a wide berth to the protestors to allow them to vocalize their outrage. The only time we see a significant police presence is during the night of 4/25 where 3 dozen police in riot gear were required to protect both the general population and the peaceful protestors alike. During that time, one officer was injured a dozen other people sustained minor injuries.

The main difference between the two cases is that the police department in Baltimore seems to be much more open and communicative with the general public than that of Ferguson.

The city is at a tipping point, though. With the violence we saw last night, it is concerning that, even if the police department is fully open about each and every action, that the general population will not allow them to do the job as due process requires.

Just like any other investigation, you don’t go straight from seeing something on amateur video to putting a person directly in jail. Much more needs to happen. There needs to be a full investigation. For example, the police commissioner said that he knows that Gray was not buckled into the wagon as he should have been and that it is possible that he was hurt during a “rough ride,” where officers hit the brakes and take sharp turns to injure suspects in the back of the van. But during his meeting with reporters, he claimed that is unacceptable, which means some sort of punishment will be doled out.

The question remains to be seen, what kind of punishment is coming?

If it were up to the protestors, that would include the death of the officers. Many of the protestors shouted for the officers to be killed, and took their aggression out on innocent citizens. In one video I saw a man look behind his shoulder and see a man and woman walking behind him. He slowed down and picked up a trash can and threw it directly at the couple, striking the woman.

That would be like me seeing an altercation between a cop and accused criminal and then going to a random area and hitting the wife of random guy. It doesn’t make any sense.

This isn’t war.

Treaties have not been broken.

Trust has.

When trust has been broken you give the offending person the opportunity to rebuild the trust by repenting and doing the right thing in the end.

So as a Christian, how should we move forward?

Should I side with the protestors? Should I side with the government?

Neither.

As a Christian, we need to side for those who are affected most by this tragedy.

First, there is the family of the man who died. They deserve privacy and understanding. While the man may or may not have had a criminal past, the family is not Freddie Gray. The only thing we should be showering on them is food for the grieving family, love for them and the privacy they deserve.

Next, we need to remember the police officers. When I looked up the average training for police officers nationwide, it looks to be about 400 hours of training time in various areas. That is about 50 days worth of training. But, of that, only 8 hours are spent in ethics and integrity, 6 hours in stress management, and 8 hours in conflict resolution. It is not my place to critique the police training program, but I bring that up to put yourself in their place.

Did you ever have a friend who was going through problems? In the ministry, that is the majority of what I hear, people’s problems. But after a mere 8 hours in training on drug and alcohol addiction, I am nowhere near qualified to prescribe a treatment program to anyone. But that is precisely what we are doing with officers, we give them a significant amount of firearm training and limited training in other ways and we expect them to be perfect on the streets. No one will get it right all the time, and when it involves firearms and choke holds and fighting, there is little room for error. Those police officers did not go out that day expecting to kill a man.

Third, we need to remember the people who are affected in the communities because of the protests. The people whose cars are getting vandalized, the people who are getting hurt, the shops that are losing sales and may need to lay off workers. They are the ones who are the innocent victims.

So we need to show justice.

Sometimes that comes in keeping our mouths shut. Other times it comes in speaking out. But our speaking out should ONLY lead to Christ. If it merely seeks to affect change, then we are missing the reason for being salt and light as the Bible calls us to be.

Read John 4:1-26.

So let’s show some dignity to the people of Baltimore. Let’s show some dignity to the people of all of the cities who are facing injustice. Show them the Christ that was the same Christ at the well when the Samaritan woman was there in the heat of day because she was ashamed to be near the other women because of her sins. We need to be the Christian who shows grace. Who shows love. Who cares for those who are affected by injustice.

Habakkuk and the Little Old Lady Experience

Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

First, I never know how to spell Habakkuk. I always want to put 2 “b” and 1 “k.” So if I misspell it, please forgive me.

While on vacation last week, I took some time and went to a local park to get in the Word. My morning devotion was Romans 1:16. That verse has become very cliché in recent history because of the Christian hip-hop movement. That has become the rally cry of the movement. There are shirts (I own one), buttons, stickers, and songs all dedicated to “116.”

I knew that Paul HAD to mean more than a Christian song lyric when he penned Romans 1:16, so I decided to make that the focus of my time in the Word.

So I grabbed my handy dandy Bible and started walking to the park. When I got there, it was empty. I was able to read through Romans 1 and trace the 1:16-17 passages back to Habakkuk 2:4. When I got into Habakkuk, I was struck by that guy’s straightforward honesty with God. I made a choice to begin reading the book of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 2:4 – “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright– but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness —

I made it through much of chapter 1 when a group of little old ladies came to the park and sat in the same area I was sitting. They were there to watch their grandkids and boy were they LOUD! They couldn’t walk too well, so they sat on the benches and yelled their commands to their grandkids all over the park. I think even the dead started to open their eyes thinking it was the sound of the trumpet!

I decided to close my Bible and talk to these women.

Almost immediately the woman turned the conversation around to what I was doing in the park. I told her I was studying the book of Habakkuk and her eyes lit up. She started telling me all about the book and the questions that it always brought up in her mind. This woman was amazing! I was so impressed with the knowledge of her the Bible without even opening it that I was almost speechless.

Habakkuk is one of those books that we hear a lot about with regard to injustice. Whenever someone brings up injustice in the world, the book of Habakkuk is readily quoted. Many times unbelievers, and even believers, take many of Habakkuk’s words out of context and use them to attempt to weaken the Christian message of the book.

Over the next few weeks I am going to take us through the book of Habakkuk.

We are not the only generation to realize injustice. Even though we sit in our homes and wonder why the dishonest and wicked people prosper while those who try to live moral, upright lives tend to be used and abused, we are not the only ones who have done so.

In 620 B.C., Habakkuk wrote his message.

Habakkuk 1:2 – How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?

As has been done many times in the past, the writer’s name has something to do with the meaning of the book. Habakkuk’s name means to “wrestle” or “embrace.” Throughout the book, Habakkuk is wrestling with a significant issue: If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there is evil in the world, why does it prosper?

In the book of Zephaniah, the Israelites thought something similar. Unfortunately in that book they believed that God was neither good nor evil, much less involved in life at all. The Israelites then continued in their sin. But Habakkuk looks at this a different way. He fears God and wants to do what is right, but is getting frustrated when evil prospers and good gets the shaft.

Zephaniah 2:15 – This is the self-assured city that lives in security, that thinks to herself: I exist, and there is no one else.

Spoiler alert: Habakkuk begins by worrying about the world around him and God’s seeming indifference but he ends in worshiping God. Habakkuk moves from questioning God to trusting Him.

Next week I will look at chapter 1 of the book.

This is a great study for anyone who has questioned whether God really cares about our future and the presence of good and evil in the world.

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