Here we are again, America. Another city burning cars and burning with anger. Where does the rage come from? Has it been building up for years and is finally breaking like a dam under the pressure? Or is it human emotion lost in another miscommunicated cause that somehow managed to pick up steam?
You can find many opinions online right now about whatever reasoning you want to hear. As for me, I don’t claim to have an answer on this. I’m a white, middle-class man who lives in Florida. There are so many words in that last sentence that disconnect me from having an truly informed view in the way a black, lower class man begging to have his voice heard in the middle of Baltimore has right now. It disconnects me from the white police officer trying to do his job wondering if he’ll make it home alive.
Rioting always baffles me. I’ve never rioted. The SEC wouldn’t even let football fans on the field after we won big games. The most rioting I’ve ever done was when I accidentally knocked over a gumball machine I was climbing on at the Pic-n-Save when I was four. I’ve never really understood why people riot in the communities they live in and burn down their own establishments. Pirates of the Caribbean burning down towns makes sense to me. They didn’t live there; what did they care? But to destroy your own neighborhood is like covering your bed in hot coals and then jumping in.
A lot of people will oppose riots and make blanket statements about an entire race of people, yet we see riots all the time. They just aren’t riots with burning cars and looting. They are verbal riots. As a Christian, I see it in the Christian community constantly. We tear each other down, belittle others and spit out what can only be the result of an overflow of pride in our hearts. If you look at situations like Baltimore right now and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is your opinion, you have a pride issue. I know because I have one, too.
Hey Christians, you’re allowed to be angry. You’re allowed to have an opinion. You’re even allowed to voice your opinion. There are times to make statements, and there are times to fight back. But before you go laying into the masses and generalizing beyond control, consider your professed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who told his followers to put away their swords.
An angry mob came against Jesus the night he was put on trial, and his right-hand-man Peter chopped off a guy’s ear. Peter was ready to throw down, and I probably would have been, too. It’s a gut reaction for most humans to stand our ground. But Jesus told him to put down the sword, and then he healed the ear of one of the men coming to take him away to die.
What do we do with that? Seriously. Does that not make your brain hurt? We have a leader who, while on the cross, pleaded for mercy on his murderers.
I believe a misconception with Christianity is that we all must be pushovers. That’s what turning the other cheek means. I disagree. I believe we should be anything but pushovers and we should be the loudest voices of all.
Just not the loudest voices for our own opinions. Not the loudest voices for our pride. We are to scream love at the top of our lungs in whatever voice we have been given.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
If someone does something wrong and you do not participate, it doesn’t automatically make you right. I’m beginning to believe justice isn’t as simple as a two-sided coin of right and wrong. We’re dealing with complicated matters in complicated times. Now more than ever we must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
The world needs your voice. It just may not need your message.