Seeking Justice in an Unjust Manner is to be Equally Unjust

It seems like every day I've visited a news website over the last week or so, I've seen a headline warning about the violence that will certainly follow the decision by a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri. Certain, that is, if the jury chooses not to indict the officer. Here are the headlines I've seen today.

I don't pretend to know the slightest thing about this case, nor do I pretend to know what it means to experience injustice (minor or major) because of my ethnicity. But the principles at work in this potential scenario of violence transcend race.

Violence does not have to follow a grand jury's decision to not indict the officer.

The community of Ferguson can choose to believe that the gospel instead.

And if they do, they won't seek justice in an unjust manner, thus showing their hearts to be equally corrupt.

Let's assume for a moment that the officer is guilty of a crime, yet is not indicted (which is the expectation of some who are ready to violently protest such a decision). Biblically speaking, in what sense is violence justified? Where did Jesus cry out for revenge and retaliation? Where did Jesus advocate for looting and theft as the proper response to injustice? When did Paul retaliate against the Jewish leaders for the many unjust beatings he received while preaching the gospel?

By seeking justice in an unjust manner, we show ourselves to be equally unjust. If we respond to hate with hate, we are no better those who hated first.

I hope that the people of Ferguson will not turn into the very people they protest.

Cry.

Weep.

Mourn.

Pray.

Seek justice lawfully.

But please, do not seek justice in an unjust manner.

Believe the gospel instead.

Bonhoeffer was right, and he experienced a grave in justice.

“Jesus will not accept the common distinction between righteous indignation and unjustifiable anger. The disciple must be entirely innocent of anger, because anger is an offence against both God and his neighbour.”

“Nothing that we despise in other men is inherently absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in light of what they suffer.”

Jesus was right, and He experienced the worst injustice.

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment. 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. Matthew 5:21-22, NLT.

Ferguson, you can choose to believe the gospel, and I pray that you will.