It's horrifying to be able to witness police brutality today like never before, especially because it can be recorded and viewed by anyone instantly all around the world. It provokes a reaction unlike simply reading about it in a news article. I personally have seen videos like these in the past until I realized that what I was actually registering in my mind is a crime scene, and it's not like a movie scene, but it is actually the moment a real human being is dying in real life.
At that point I decided, I don't need to see videos like that to understand it happened and be appalled by it just the same. What has happened in these last days has left most of us longing for justice. The way we respond to this injustice however will look different depending on your beliefs. For instance, if you believe no innocent human being deserves to suffer violence you will not retaliate in your response against other innocent human beings.
In Luke 6:29 Jesus says, "If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them." In other words, do not retaliate in a sinful manner in your anger and in the moment of injustice that you are experiencing. Jesus is teaching us that we are not people that hurt or steal from other people, and he is showing us how to respond when those things happen.
Jesus taught us also in Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Jesus sets us apart from the world. He says that we are the light of the world, meaning because Jesus is himself the Light, and we are his followers, now we are the light of the world. When we live by what Jesus teaches us, his light is seen through us in this world. When cruel injustices happen, the world should be able to look to us, the Church, for some light in this dark world.
As Christians, we must remember that our allegiance is not to any movement, but to Christ first and foremost. We follow Jesus, even as we fight social injustice. We get angry, but we don't sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26). We are frustrated at people, but we love and pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We call out any wrong doing by our government, but we submit and pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:2). And lastly, we respond like the good samaritan and are not the perpetuators of theft and violence. We condemn all forms of evil, including those done in the name of social justice.
Before Jesus called us the light of the world, he also said this in verse 9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." When we promote peace, we are walking as children of God. Notice in the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10, Jesus mentions theft and violence as the evil that happened to someone. Jesus purposely chose a Samaritan, the person socially seen as less-than in that culture, to teach us something important that applies to us Christians.
The question raised to Jesus that prompted the parable of the good samaritan was this:
What must I do to inherit eternal life?
Jesus asked him to answer this question according to what the Law says, and his response to Jesus was: Love your God and your neighbor.
Jesus then told him, "Do this and you will live".
He responded to Jesus by saying, "and who is my neighbor?"
Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan, but notice he raises the status of the Samaritan in it, making him more religious than the religious Jews that didn't stop to help the half dead man that was beaten and robbed. Notice also the only violence Jesus included in his parable came from the people Jesus was painting as the neighbor that does not love his neighbor. However, the religious Jewish men were also guilty of not loving their neighbor, in that, although they were not the ones that actually caused the crime scene, they did nothing to help him.
As followers of Christ, we don't want to be like the religious people that saw someone half dead and felt nothing and did nothing to help, but we also don't want to in our efforts to fight against social injustice turn into those robbers that hurt innocent people as well. We must fight for social justice as we follow Jesus, so that the world may see the church shining bright and leading through our example. As followers of Christ, we should not follow anyone or anything that does not have Jesus leading the way.
We must have mercy and help those that suffer at the hands of violent men, but remember that Jesus in the parable painted love and help in a peaceful manner. At the core of all of our sorrow, anger and desire to bring about social change, there should be rooted a love inspired by Jesus Christ, who commands us to love our neighbor. Anything that is not rooted in love is not from God, as John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
So remember that although loving our neighbor is fundamental in our Christian walk and we must have compassion in moments of injustice of every kind, in our anger we must not sin. Be quick to help your neighbor in whatever way you are able and is good, because Jesus gave us an example of what loving our neighbor truly is in this parable and in his sacrifice. The love of God breaks down racial barriers and hatred, and we are eager to be the light in this world, but don't forget to follow Jesus while in pursuit of social justice in this world.