The Verdict is in: guilty.
‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’
Amos 5:24 (NIVUK)
On 25 May 2020 a group of people watched helplessly as George Floyd’s life drained away because a police officer’s knee was on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. His pleas for assistance were ignored and he died as the world watched. On 20 April 2021 the officer was found guilty on three counts. As Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stated ‘I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice.’1 Therefore, we ask, ‘What does justice look like?’
Martin Luther King Jr reminded us in his I have a dream speech that ‘Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children…No, no, we are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ He was quoting the prophet Amos (5:24). He also said, ‘True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.’2 Jesus rebuked the leaders of his day saying that they ‘…left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith…’ (Matthew 23:23 ASV).
As we watch, listen and reflect we know that every human being is created in the image of God. Therefore, with the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and transforming our minds we work diligently to root out all vestiges of injustice that exist within us. We not only desire true justice but practice it. We pray and, by example, work for the restoration of human dignity and worth where it has been absent. We hold ourselves to account to bring out the best in all people and every situation. The Church is the place where we can practice these virtues then go into the wider world.
Jesus took our guilty verdict and we are brought into communion with heaven and each other so that the righteousness of God will flow like a mighty stream cleansing all that it comes into contact with. As Christians we must work to overcome the evils of injustice because of the faithfulness of God, the love of God poured out on us and the hope we have for a better world.
Today, let us do the right thing despite the tensions, difficulties and opposition. We are free in, and because of, Christ, so we can bring the message of liberation and real justice to the world. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV). We can show the world what the justice of God looks like, by our speech and through our actions.
God of justice, let your mind be in us as we face the challenges of our humanity. Help us to exercise justice and bring peace. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
Study by David Gibbs
About the writer:
David Gibbs is a Minister in the Birmingham congregation of Grace Communion International, and also serves on the Pastoral Council.
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