The Social Justice Cops
I hope serious Christians are not getting entangled in this ugly nationwide brawl over the strangulation death of George Floyd at the hands of a white cop in Minneapolis. It’s difficult to resist since passions are running so feverishly insane. Everyone is growing more angry every day. But Christians should not get suckered into it, if they know anything about the Word of God.
I remember the 1968 Race Riots.
What goes around comes around.
The Floyd family says they are a “God fearing” people, which is the best news I’ve heard coming out of this nationwide mayhem. To be God-fearing surely means this world is not my home, I’m just passing through. It means George Floyd is a Christian brother, and we will be united with him and fellowship with him under the loving authority of God’s Kingdom, which operates differently than the US government.
Look at the difference it makes when the love of Jesus Christ reigns supreme:
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Revelation 5:9 (NASB)
The Apostle John sees the coming glory of God’s Kingdom and he sees racial unity. How does John know these people are “from every tribe…and people and nation” except the people have different skin colors? Tony Evans points that out. It makes sense. I doubt everyone’s skin will be white in the Kingdom of God, especially since the vast majority of believers come from Africa and China and India – and just about anywhere but White Western civilizations, where belief in the risen Savior of Mankind is dying a pitiful death. In fact, it’s most likely Whites will be in the minority in the Kingdom of God! God’s Kingdom is more like hell for White Supremacists!
“The first will be last, and the last will be first,” JC promised about His Kingdom. That pretty much sounds like faithful, loving, non-White brothers and sisters suffering racial persecution will be elevated and praised by the Hosts of Heaven.
I truly wish Christians would point the way to the Kingdom of God during this spate of protests and riots. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” In other words, all the racism, hatred, inequalities, wars and chaos that dominates the World System has already been overcome by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Or, as JC put it, “There will be wars and rumors of wars, and then the end shall come.” Or, as it says in 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Why? Because, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Is it possible to establish social justice in such a world as this?
The Social Justice Myth
“Social Justice” is a myth in the World System. The brutal fact is that it’s impossible to pass enough laws to create a just and fair society because the World System is ruled by “the god of this world” who loves chaos and champions violence. This violence is so pervasive, it’s buried deep inside the heart of humankind…
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel… James 4:1-2
And then James adds, just in case there’s any ambiguity about the futility of building a world of “social justice” …
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4
Is it not true that the effort to change the World System means, by necessity, befriending the World System? By hoping to make it a friendlier place, is that not attempting to make “a friend of the world,” thus becoming “an enemy of God”? Perhaps these great changes can be attempted without befriending the World System. Still, it should be done with extreme caution about the spiritual traps awaiting Christians who get too ensnared in the politics and machines of the System.
Here’s my question: can cops protest when they get killed and mistreated by Blacks or Whites or whoever? If that seems like an incendiary question, consider that the world is governed by “those who live by the sword die by the sword,” as JC summarized it. Cops brutalize Blacks, Blacks brutalize cops, Whites brutalize Blacks, and round-and-round it goes…an endless spiral. Living and dying by the sword. Sword, sword, sword… Somebody somewhere must put down the sword. Usually it’s the dead person.
Don’t get me wrong – that cop who strangled George to death looked like a beast. He looked like he was enjoying himself. Or at least smug and defiant as citizens objected all around him. The other cops standing around with their hands in their pockets seemed used to this – just another day in cop paradise! That cop or those cops should face charges. Let’s see if these are criminals in cop disguises. There is such a thing, you know.
I personally view cops with dread and loathing. I am a cop magnet. I especially attract self-important, ego-inflated thugs called “Rangers” in the Department of Natural Resources – they aren’t all that way, but somehow I always attract thugs. And, by the way, I’m a very innocent white man. I won’t even get into it, but I have a long list of complaints against cops. They don’t fight fair most of the time. When I see a cop car light up behind me, I say, “This won’t be good.” And I’m usually right.
If I feel like a cop magnet, no doubt Blacks and other minorities feel that way more so. One saintly (very large) Black brother told me how he was pulled over by cops who asked his White wife if everything was OK. Holy poopers.
But relief through Social Justice… Remember the “One Percent” Wall Street protests back in 2011? Probably not. That’s because nothing much came of it. The rich still oppress the poor. So too will be the outcome of today’s protests against cop brutality – lots of anger and talk. They may pass more laws against cop brutality, but remember the cops are the ones enforce the laws! It will go on and on.
The best way to deal with brutal cops is to keep a safe distance away. As far away as possible. Don’t bait them. They’ve got guns. And all the money in the USA backs them. Don’t mess with these folks! Resisting arrest, insulting or otherwise tormenting cops is a huge gamble! Maybe the cop facing you is a decent cop who won’t overreact. Maybe that cop will be a brother is Christ. (Yes, I have been arrested – quite unjustifiably, I might add – by a brother in Christ, and it turned out to be a delightful experience.) But quite possibly, quite likely, the cop you’re facing is a thug in disguise. How many natural born bullies and killers apply for cop jobs? Someone should study that, because I’ll bet there’s a good number.
The Christian Response to Social Injustice
For that reason, I embrace the Kingdom of God. Here is God’s will for Christians facing the brutality and social injustice in the World System:
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:13-17
What is a helpful, biblical understanding of social injustice? I see a few important points, and they follow the pattern laid down by Jesus as he suffered the greatest social injustice – JC was the only human in history who lived a sinless life, yet he was shamefully executed as the most despicable of all criminals. What’s worse, that was his intention! By dying in the most unjust, unfair manner, Jesus demonstrated that God’s victory is not tied to changing the corrupt, human system of justice. It means this…
- Christians should never try turning the World System into the Kingdom of God, or even hope for it. Jesus clearly told Pilate, just before Pilate crucified him, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36) Jesus never fought the establishment. Rather, he said to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” It means Christians are to submit to social injustice. It means hope placed in Caesar’s Kingdom is misplaced hope.
- The only Christian victory over social injustice is our loyalty and devotion to God’s Kingdom. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4) Any Christian who despises the social injustice of this world should respond with a loud voice that the only hope and salvation for humankind is to enter the Kingdom of God. Without this kind proclamation first and foremost, front and center, anything hopeful a Christian says about building a peaceful, just world in this World System is truly misguided and lame. If anything has been proven by the social justice movement, it is that injustice never stops – it only finds new ways and avenues. Slavery is outlawed, but racism keeps chugging along in the World System in horrific ways. Please remember that Martin Luther King was assassinated. Far from establishing the new world order he wanted to see in his “I Have a Dream” speech, King was, in fact, a victim of a racist, hateful world. Social justice always gets assassinated in the World System and by the World System. I vividly remember the race riots erupting across the USA back in 1968 when King was murdered. What changed? Blacks can get better jobs today and aren’t forced to ride in the back of the bus. Ok, but listen to the people protesting in the streets today – they correctly identify long lists of ways that Blacks are still disadvantaged, oppressed, hated, stigmatized, and more. Repeatedly, many of the protesters complain, “Nothing has changed! Racism is still rampant!” In this, we must agree. The greatest hoax perpetrated in secularized America is that it’s possible to somehow change the World System through better laws and better education at the hands of wise, secular gurus.
- Christians should respond to social injustice by providing God’s love and God’s concern for the destitute and the oppressed. Jesus declared the mission statement of the New Covenant, which we are to follow as a template: “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) All of these activities should mark the presence of true believers. But we are doing these great acts of sacrifice in the name of “the favorable year of the Lord.” In other words, not declaring “the favorable year of the World System.” By kindness, love and grace, Christians declare the stark difference between the World System and the Kingdom of God.
- Most important of all, the Christian cause delivers grace, not social justice. Delivering God’s grace, mercy and kindness is infinitely superior to delivering justice and go infinitely further helping those plagued with suffering. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,” is the correct message (Titus 2:11). The New Covenant message is fixed on grace, not law.
- Christians will promote and support a more just society by growing God’s Kingdom, because that means transformation of souls inside out. “The love of Christ controls us,” as Paul said, which brings transformation no laws can touch.
The greatest misdirection of Christianity in the US was turning Christian obligations and our “labor of love” over to the US Government. When the US Government took over Christian charities and acts of kindness, it did a miserable job imitating what Christians could and should be doing, which is, “Working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Corinthians 6:1) Does the US Government “urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain”?
The greatest misdirection in Christian history was repeatedly turning our Christian “labor of love” over to the government. Or, in the same way, trying to conform the World System to the Kingdom of God. Did you know the Gospel was making huge inroads in China by the 7th & 8th Centuries? But those Christians became buddy-buddies with the political dynasty, so when it was overthrown, Christianity evaporated in China. For almost a millennia.
There once was a day when Christian ministers proclaimed the glory of God’s Kingdom over and above the glory of any other kingdom on earth. They once proclaimed God’s grace, not justice. Those days seems to be gone in the USA, as ministers now proclaim the need to change the World System into a haven of social justice.
- Dismantle and Disband the Police!
Thanks for this sobering, yet hopeful perspective on everything, Keith! We really don’t have to look too hard in the Bible to see God’s stance on how we’re to respond to social justice in the World System. In the gospels, Rome (aka the world system) was full of bullies and Jews were shocked that Christ wasn’t fighting that. But I love that John 18:36 explains it so clearly that God’s kingdom is not of this world, and that’s what we’re fighting for and that should continue to be our focus in the church today.
“The greatest hoax perpetrated in secularized America is that it’s possible to somehow change the World System through better laws and better education at the hands of wise, secular gurus.”
Amen brother!! Loved your blog, keep writing.
Amen! Let’s not try to bring institutions into God’s Kingdom. Instead, let’s let God’s love shine through us to bring people, 1 person at a time, to hear Jesus’ offer to take their penalty on Himself.
Would love to hear how you were “quite unjustifiably arrested” by a brother. Sounds like a fun story!
I was arrested & handcuffed in Hudson & handed over to the Bedford police for tax evasion when Bedford misfiled my tax returns. While handing me over, they couldn’t unlock the handcuffs, so police from Streetsboro, Twinsburg, Arora, Bedford & Hudson all got involved. Six cop cars, probably 10-12 cops & flashing lights surrounding poor little old handcuffed me in a suit & tie just trying to get to work on time.
Another time, I was praying with my fellow elders in a park in Bedford when the cops showed up, 3 cars, guns drawn, body searched, handcuffed, held at Bay with K9 dog unit while they searched my car & etc ALL BECAUSE my son Kyle left his .45 handgun sitting in the back seat of my car and the cops saw it. It was actually a water pistol. I think if I were black I probably would have been shot, even though the water pistol had a red tip marking it as a toy.
Sound, focused, needed perspective. Thanks Keith!
This article was much better than what I have been reading on the topic. It actually motivates me in this era of discouragement and uncertainty.
In Jesus and in the gospel we have hope.
And you motivated me Danny!!
This is one of the most useless articles I’ve ever seen! Not to mention insensitive! Just because we won’t ever see total social justice, you think we should stop fighting for it???? Talk again when you have relatives that have been beaten and killed for their color or when people of your color have been targeted for HUNDREDS of years! You want the gospel heard? Me too!!! Let’s start by acknowledging the social systemic injustice that’s occurred, standing by the injured, using our “white” voices to take up the fight on behalf of those who can’t. Share with the grieving that God stands with them in their grief. Then share the gospel.
Perhaps you should also read my follow-up article https://keithmccallum.org/inside/6100
Maybe it provides the perspective you’d feel better about?
PS: I do have relatives suffering terrible persecution and death for no good reason except they love others in the name of JC. In fact more Christians are being persecuted and executed now than any other time in history. Nobody cares.
Keith, great article! Lots of discussion in our household as to how to be the salt and light, how to “do good to all men”, be in the world but not of it etc.
In such a way that we don’t retreat into a bubble and yet not succumb to to the temptation of putting our hope in earthly kingdoms. When Jesus talked about using unrighteous mammon, could the same principle be applied here? For instance if a Christian gets involved in efforts for police reform, could this be an example of being light so that trust is built for the message of the gospel. I’m thinking of the idea of feeding the hungry(salt) before giving the gospel(light). To just feed the poor falls way short of our call to preach the gospel but to not feed them falls way short of love and the message is hollow. I guess my question is can attempts to bring social justice be the good works(instead of appearing/being aloof and callous) that accompany the gospel?
You’re absolutely right Beth, Christians most certainly need to practice before they preach. For example, 1Pe 3:13 “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?” And more important,in Jam 2:15 — 16 “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” HOWEVER, our social ministries should not get polluted with the misguided leadership of the new secular moralism. Feeding, clothing, helping the disadvantaged is *not* social justice. It’s God’s grace. Grace is not justice.
Except for the implication that most cops are thugs, this is good stuff.
Change most to some, and you’re closer to reality, IMO.
Amen to “grace” v “social justice”, and rejection of “make the world a better place” as a goal (it’s not, even if it’s a bi-product of building the Lord’s kingdom, as you say).
Best to you and yours,
I said “most”? That was unfortunately misstated. I agree “some” cops are thugs, however I also attract thug cops, or at least not very nice cops a lot. That could also be because they can tell I’m not very nice either. Somehow.