A murder, on film. Lawless lawmen, racism, protests. Burning cities. Is this the normal we all wanted to go back to after lockdown?
We’re angry. Angry that a man could ignore another man even as he begs for his life. Angry that men who swore to protect would stand by and threaten force against anyone who tried to intervene as he died. Angry that this is far from the first time this has happened, and won’t be the last. Angry that more innocent people are now being hurt by riots that are destroying their communities and businesses.
We need justice. We demand it. Nobody should get away with cold-blooded murder. We want justice for George Floyd. We want it for everyone. We want a just world. We want a world where no one abuses power and no one is targeted for their skin colour. We want a world where protests are unnecessary, and never turn violent. We want a world where justice never fails. There’s only one problem with a perfectly just world:
I couldn’t live there.
I don’t have to think hard to realise that I have also abused what little power I have for my own advantage. I have also treated people badly when they deserved my care and respect. I have at times destroyed what I should have built. I have been unjust. If we somehow succeed in building a perfectly just world, I won’t be qualified to live in it. As soon as I put a foot through the gate, our perfect world would no longer be perfect.
What can I do? Try as I might, I still often fail myself and others, and I’m still finding deep roots of pride, selfishness, and self-justification in my own heart. How can I help create justice in the world when I can’t even keep my own heart right? It seems the Apostle Paul felt the same tension, and knew where to look for the answer:
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
– Romans 7:21-25