Romans 12:14-21 NASB
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.  “But IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
In the first article on George Floyd’s death we talked some about how the empathetic Church will change the world that it is in. The Lord wants, even requires, that His people take the time to understand and try to identify with the perspective of those who are different in both the world and The Church. One value that is almost innate in The United States is loosely referred to as a freedom of speech. This is a crucial value to maintain and cherish, especially when it comes to sharing The Gospel, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of listening to others. James 1:19 NASB says,
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;
Too often the general response to a tragedy like the death of George Floyd is to shout angrily with very little consideration given to the crucial first step of listening. Conversely, it is very easy to become dismissive, haughty in mind as Romans describes, toward someone who is wounded by a situation because they are often very emotional and illogical in response to being hurt. When Christians aren’t deliberate about initially holding our tongues, it is too easy to fall into a scenario where anger, misunderstanding & arrogance are fueling all sides of a tragedy. When such a cycle occurs, not only is there no justice that results, but things also get progressively worse.
Being caring and wanting justice doesn’t mean being reactionary. Christ’s life gives us a number of wonderful examples to illustrate how empathy should work in very positive ways. In Mark 1:41, Jesus understood an individual’s desperation, was moved with compassion, and healed a man with a leperous physical condition. In Mark 6:42, Jesus perceived a visionless people and endeavoured to teach and lead them in a different way. In Mark 8:2, Christ saw a practical need that resulted in the miraculous feeding of thousands. Jesus not only had an accurate grasp on the real issues that existed, He clearly cared, consistently described as being moved with compassion, for the people being addressed. We can also be certain that compassion was a catalyst for Jesus to seek the will of His Father for a great result in each of these very different situations (see John 5:19). In all of the cases, carnal reaction was avoided and a unique, caring path was given to Christ as He asked for the guidance of His Father.
The riotous response to George Floyd’s death has greatly reduced, if not nullified all together, the positive change that could have come from the situation. In my prayers over Mr. Floyd’s death I am reminded of our experiences in Africa where Trina and I regularly encountered protests that turned violent. The strenuous demands made by an offended community were almost always placated on the surface. Some outward demands were met, eerily similar to the current removal of statues in The USA, but the heart of people didn’t really change. There was a collective dismissal of the concern, in part, because of the violent nature of the protests. Look again at James 1:20 NASB which says,
for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God
In our 19 years of observing, living and participating with many different facets of society in South Africa, the riot/response cycle produced an increasingly divided and cynical population.
It is becoming obvious that the world is more and more incapable of managing and solving the problems that are present in it. The public uproar in the wake of George Floyd’s death, while significant in size, is only the latest uprising of its kind in The West. Rather than progress, I sense a deepening of division and cynicism over issues surrounding the police and racism. This will continue until the guidance of The Holy Spirit is clearly modeled by The Church to the world in similar situations.
Roman’s instruction of overcoming evil with good starts with the individual believer. Who do you know, regardless of their particular view on George Floyd’s death, that is led from a perspective of pride, cynicism, hurt or anger? What is The Lord telling you about their particular situation? What are you prepared to do about it? Check your initial reaction with The Lord in prayer. Then your words and actions will permeate the wider Body of Christ, and ultimately impact the world.