Those calling to “dismantle” and “disband” police departments like the Minneapolis City Council are not going far enough. The nationwide calls to “defund” police departments are even more lame. Both the “dismantle” and “defund” causes have vague ideas of diverting money from police towards better community education and training programs to end the poverty causing violence and crime. History already proves those ideas won’t work.
Attempts to politically engineer social justice and end poverty were pursued exhaustively from every direction, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, beginning with President Johnson’s “Great Society” campaign in the 1960s. What’s changed since then? According to all research the disparity between rich and poor kept growing and continues. Johnson’s urban renewal programs produced massive, rat-infested tenement slums now called the Projects where poor, mostly non-Whites are shelved.
Racism and resentment keep festering and economic inequalities keep growing in the USA even though the US Government has spent more money and employed more social welfare programs than any other nation on earth or in history. Yet protests have erupted in England, France, Spain, Australia and others against American racial inequalities. Even the dictators in China and Iran joined the outcry, despite their own wretched behaviors against ethnic minorities. Ask the Irish about England’s racist record, or ask the Australian aborigines about Australia’s racism. The hypocrisy is astounding. China, of course, should tutor the USA on how to treat ethnic minorities.
Ironically, the national outrage against police brutality and the demands of the #BlackLivesMatter movement has created more violence and deeper polarization. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Breeze said his family is getting death threats after he said, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.” Five police have been killed and others seriously wounded. Molotov cocktails were thrown in Minneapolis, then in a police car by a NYC lawyer who was Princeton educated. She was not a typical street thug. Countless protestors have been brutalized by police – it’s hard to track all the violence and casualties stemming from the George Floyd’s cruel death.
The Need for Radical Change
God says in 1 John 5:19, “The whole System lies in the power of the Evil One,” which means the problem really is systemic, contrary to Attorney General Barr’s recent statement denying it. Yes, there is systemic evil in police departments, in governments, in armies and all the ingenious systems of humankind wielding power throughout history. Pervasive corruption and evil explain why “the whole System is passing away, along with its lusts,” God says in 1 John 2:17. So too, systemic failure is inherently built into all the civilizations of humankind, great or small. All civilizations collapse, by necessity, spectacularly and violently. It would be naïve and ignorant to think the USA can produce a stable civilization that defies the course of human history.
Dismantle and disband is merely the beginning of God’s solution, and it will happen. It is a fact as certain as the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because the same one who resurrected from the grave also promised that he will dismantle and disband the whole System, and soon. But he said that job belongs to him, not us. The timing is determined by our Heavenly Father, not us. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone,” Jesus said in Matthew 24:36. But he guaranteed it will happen and must happen, because he said in verse 35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away!”
The greatest wrongs in church history occurred when Christians replaced Jesus’ words with different marching orders from human, political sources. Jesus promised repeatedly he will establish the Kingdom of God in a spectacular, authoritative manner—in His way, not our way. “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be,” he said in Matthew 24:27. Jesus promised spectacular change.
Unfortunately, Christians keep trying to finish the job they think Jesus failed to do, so Christians get sucked into establishing the justice and righteousness of God’s Kingdom on earth themselves—God’s Kingdom without Jesus leading it! Isn’t that silly? European history is rancid with European powers taking turns claiming to host God’s Kingdom on earth. Christians kept joining political traps. All those efforts were political, not spiritual, so they produced disaster and useless bloodshed. They never established anything resembling God’s Kingdom on earth. First the Romans tricked Christians, then the Byzantine Empire, then Charlemagne’s new Holy Roman Empire, then King Henry VIII’s Anglican empire, and other smaller Protestant governments all taking turns, all claiming to host God’s Kingdom on earth, all of them trapping naïve Christians with empty promises of building God’s Kingdom. Christians were killing Christians over which version of God’s Kingdom gets to rule the earth—delusions of grandeur.
The Surprising Funeral
The Reverend Al Sharpton was an impressive speaker at George Floyd’s funeral in Houston. Big Al not only lost about 200 pounds he also delivered profound biblical insights. But there were points where his sermon was tainted with the same old, historical poison where he called for Christians to change the politics of the System. At the same time, he said the problems were spiritual. Sharpton correctly said the evil of racism was deeply embedded “in high places” and read from Ephesians 6:10-13…
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12
Rev. Sharpton said the systemic evil all around us comes from “wickedness in high places,” which meant fighting President Trump and the Republican establishment. But wait! What? Is it wickedness is in “heavenly” places or “high” places? He read from the KJV, which does say “high” places. Big Al turned that into a political campaign, but the passage specifically said, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” Spiritual evil lies “in the heavenly places,” which are the “high places” beyond human reach, and especially beyond the reach of any political machinery, right?
As the NY Times reported, “speaker after speaker invoked the political movement born out of what happened in Minneapolis” at George Floyd’s funeral. This included some political figures like the Mayor of Houston, but also the series of Christian pastors who also “invoked the political movement” at his funeral. That report was not the whole truth, however.
Something else happened at George Floyd’s funeral that was amazing and precious. And it was completely censored out by the NY Times and all the broadcast networks. I watched the funeral. Christian love was expressed in that Houston church, a refreshing contrast to the unvarnished anger dominating the streets and airwaves since George Floyd’s homicide. However, the funeral was falsely depicted, by all accounts, as an extension of the political movement and anger dominating the streets.
One amazing preacher was Dr. Ralph Douglass West, the “Senior Pastor and Founder of The Church Without Walls.” What!? Sounds familiar. He gave a sweet eulogy for George. “God didn’t cause it, but He can certainly use it,” he said, and quoted from Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and walk according to His purpose.” He was clear that God’s solutions were the only real solutions.
There was amazing praise and thanks given to Jesus by amazingly gifted Black Gospel Singers. “You are worthy of praise,” they sang, “for your goodness and your mercy…You are so good to me!” And then, “Can someone offer him praise right now? Wave your hand if you’re blessed!” These were not angry voices. They were Christian voices.
Salt and Light
Political fury is raging across the country and the world, but in that Houston church a whole different world was on display, but that was censored in the reporting. What a joyful, thankful difference Christian voices make when they speak like Christians, but their voices were censored, so only the political overtones of anger and revenge were heard.
“We must commit to this family…that until these people pay for what they did, that we’re going to be there with them,” the Times quoted from Al Sharpton’s message, so it sounds like Christians are saying nothing new or different from the street rage. Once again, the politicization of the Christian message is underway.
It’s evident George Floyd was our Christian brother. In 2013 his life changed from criminal-druggie-felon to Gentle Giant George. By far, the greatest help and support for George Floyd came from Christians who led him into a salvation through Jesus Christ. That tremendously loving accomplishment goes largely unnoticed, even by Christians. How can this be?
“After prison, Mr. Floyd became even more committed to his church,” the NY Times said. He “spent a lot of time at Resurrection Houston, a church that holds many of its services on the basketball court in the middle of Cuney Homes,” an impoverished section of Houston. From there George went to Minneapolis to participate in a Christian rehab program and work at the Salvation Army. “Mr. Floyd kept a Bible by his bed. Often, he read it out loud” to his roommates, the NY Times reported.
The inner transformation underway in George’s life is the biblical answer and the only answer to “evil in high places.” Jesus pointed to inner transformation as the only solution for world transformation. God changes cultures from the bottom up, through grassroots changes, not top-down changes imposed by governments and political activism. Top-down changes by compulsion can only produce superficial, temporary change. Deceptive change. Secular change.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?” JC said in Matthew 5:13. “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” That warning is urgently relevant today because the Christian voice is so irrelevant “and trampled underfoot” in the American mind. Meanwhile, flimsy, secular imitations of Christian charity and goodness are easily replacing Christian “saltiness” because Christians sound just like New Age Secular Moralists, emphasizing the same superficial, shabby changes politicians can implement without Christians. The “salt of the earth” was evident in God’s spiritual transformation through people like George Floyd and all those good brothers and sisters surrounding him.
Unfortunately, the Christian pastors speaking at George’s funeral said nothing about salvation, the Good News, spiritual transformation, Jesus Christ, his crucifixion or resurrection, the true Kingdom of God, or anything else that might be considered “Christian” or “non-political.” No wonder the NY Times and all the other broadcasters found it easy to censor the muted Gospel! It may be said that Christians collaborated with the new Secular Moralists bent on replacing the Christian message with a new, ungodly message that includes rage, revenge and self-righteous venom so typical of Secular Moralists. Look at who you’re partnering with, brothers and sisters! For example, Gail King, the hostess of CBS This Morning, said on-air yesterday there was no need to wait for the cop’s trial to express outrage because the video showed all we need to know. Do we as Christians really want to make our voices sound this way? The Secular Moralists are great at sewing division and all sorts of ungodly, hateful and judgmental attitudes around, is this not true?
“The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God,” James 1:20 says. Christians should not associate themselves with that anger seething in this Post Christian world.
It’s fine for Christians to advocate social change if they make it clear they’re working under the authority and leadership of their Lord and Savior of all humankind, Jesus Christ. It’s fine for a Christian to promote social change in this democracy only if it doesn’t overshadow JC’s agenda, which is “Make disciples of the nations.” When Christians jump on the bandwagon with Secular Moralists, they lose their saltiness, they will be trampled underfoot, and ultimately become useless.