The greatness and the glory of God are relevant. It does not matter if surveys turn up a list of perceived needs that does not include the supreme greatness of the sovereign God of grace. That is the deepest need. Our People are starving for God. (John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching pg. 10-11)
It is difficult to turn on the news lately and not have a story on the conflict between police and at least some who view police as evil. News channels on one side raise the issue of how many officers are killed in the line of duty while those on the other side seem to not be aware of those numbers but instead focus on how many Blacks are shot by officers. New York City police Officer Wenjian Liu and his partner, Officer Rafael Ramos were assassinated by Ismaaiyl Brinsley after what Al Sharpton and Mayor Bill de Blasio said was a peaceful protest march which just so happened to include the protestors chanting, “What you do want? Dead cops! When do you want them? Now!” Brinsley took it to heart and acted on the call. The finger pointing then began in earnest. I don’t really intend to jump into this fray other than as a jumping off point to something that I think is a bigger issue. We are watching humanity in its fallen state on parade and it is not a pretty site. There is really nothing new here it is just dramatic, in our face and hurting our sensibilities.
Finger pointing goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Eve was deceived into partaking of the forbidden fruit, Adam freely chose to partake as she offered it to him and then blamed God for the entire episode.
The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.
The woman you gave me. Adam is saying, “I am a victim.” This is the human condition. In Genesis 4 Cain felt victimized. Abel’s blood sacrifice was accepted but Cain’s offering of produce was not. Cain killed his brother Abel to get even and then tried to lie to God about his act. Aside from the fact that killing his brother because he felt victimized was wrong, he was punishing the wrong person. Abel isn’t the one who rejected the offering.
Joy recently had a conversation with someone very close to us about Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s assassination of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The individual said, “He was just getting even.” Joy asked who Brinsley was getting even with and for what? Was it racism? Certainly some folks in all races are racist but Liu and Ramos were both minorities. Neither was involved with either of the cases which have been used as the excuse to burn down buildings (punishing the innocent owners and families of those businesses), shutting down traffic lanes and highways (punishing uninvolved drivers who were going about their daily lives of work commutes, shopping, going to the hospital, etc.). In other words, Brinsley and the protestors were busy punishing all sorts of individuals who had nothing whatever to do with the claimed victimization. Worse yet, Brinsley and the protestors were not the victims. In Joy’s conversation she asked when is it ever right to punish one person for the actions of someone else? The response she got was a surprised look and an acknowledgement that it is never right. My question goes further. When is it ever right for a non-injured party to punish an innocent non-perpetrator for the perceived wrongs of someone else to whom they are not even tangentially related?
As noted earlier, the inclination to cast the blame on an innocent party is as old as Adam and Cain. Taking retribution on an innocent party dates back to Cain killing Abel. It comes of placing our desires and perceived needs as the measure of what is important and relegating God to the sidelines if thinking about Him at all.
Should the church and indeed individual believers weigh in on social matters such as this? The answer is yes but the basis needs to be in a way which points out and demonstrates, as John Piper rightly stated, that “Our People are starving for God” not only inside the church but outside as well.