We’ve watched with sadness and dismay this week as protests have turned violent in the United States in the wake of the tragic death in custody of George Floyd. We’re distant – and most of us know nothing of racial oppression – but in some small way, most of us feel the same desperate hunger for justice – our hearts offer the same cry for a world in which people aren’t preferenced or marginalised because of their skin colour.
In 1963 Martin Luther King Jnr. shared his dream of a world in which “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream”. Those words came from Amos 5:24, echoing God’s desire that his people would seek to embody his love in the way they treated each other. And yet – since Amos recorded those words, and since MLK Jnr. quoted them – the human condition remains dark. Our tendency towards fear, violence, injustice and hatred is as real as ever. The cry for justice and peace is as desperate as ever.
The Bible gives words to those cries.
Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless,
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed – Psalm 10:17-18
But when? Eventually, when Jesus returns and makes all things right. The Bible ends with an image of people from every tribe and language, unified, with one voice worshipping God. The citizens of that Kingdom will live without fear, hatred or racism. But until then? Well, Jesus himself experienced injustice. Though innocent, He was nailed to a cross. His blood ran down its timber beams as the angry taunts of a violent mob filled the air. But He met madness with mercy. And to know and follow Jesus is to recognise our own need for that mercy, and thank God that by grace He does not deal with us as we deserve. Now, by God’s grace, we strive to embody that same justice and mercy. May God enable us to do so.