Summary: Change, if the world is not the way it needs to be---what is our response
One of the pressing questions of our day, or any day, is how do we make lasting social change which reflects the values of God’s Kingdom. The short answer for many is the ballot box. Yet there are plenty of issues which demand more nuance than legislation. From the Temperance movement of the 1820’s to the Moral Majority of the 1980’s, to the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2015 someone is always fighting for Micah 6:8 to be more than a prophetic word from an 8th Century Jewish prophet. But as you can see from these examples the change is always temporary.
The Temperance movement, for instance, won the legislative battle, but in the end, they lost the war. The Moral Majority made a lot of noise but in the end was disappointed with political influence.
Allen Jacobs a police officer here in Greenville was shot and killed. Michael Xavier Johnson a military veteran ambushes five policemen in Dallas earlier this year. An African-American Terence Crutcher died at the hands of the police in September, in the video, he looks to be compiling with officers, before he is shot. Terence, as we all know, is only the latest of African-American men to be shot by the police. Robert Jones, a researcher recently reported that 53% of all US citizens view these killings as isolated incidents. 65% of white people see them as isolated incidents. While 15% of African-American see the shootings as isolated events.
Yesterday 2 officers are killed in Palm Springs, responding to a domestic dispute and it is reported they were killed my machine gun fire? Now a veteran of 35 years who was retiring in December and a mother of a four-month-old are dead.
So is the problem racism, is the problem violence, is it social un-rest, or is yet another issue. The response to the killing of African-American Men or police officers or children has been protesting. Protest aimed at raising awareness of the problem. Yet, even with the protest, change is slow and difficult to measure. 16 black men were shot by police officers in September, many were unarmed. Yesterday two more officers were killed. There is a lot of violence going on and it is not showing any signs of slowing down. Which brings me back to the question, how do we make social change that reflects the Kingdom of God?
As Dr. King said, you can’t legislate a person of color to love a person of a different color. So if you can’t legislate a solution, how do we make necessary changes? Some will say change starts in the heart. Well, there is nothing wrong with that unless we are saying it as an excuse to NOT do anything. Jesus offers a new way to break old patterns, so let’s listen to him for a moment.
Jesus identified a problem. The problem wasn’t killing. Killing was the end result, but the problem started way before the killing began. Anger and frustration in human relationships is where Jesus started. People could not get along or work together. People spent their days in arguments and their nights angry. Divisions were growing. So the first thing Jesus does is remind people of traditional righteousness.